Vivendi Plans to Pay Shareholders as Telecom Sales Near Close

Vivendi SA, the French media conglomerate, is planning to use proceeds from the sale of its SFR and Maroc Telecom phone units to pay back investors, Chief Financial Officer Herve Philippe said today.

The company, which agreed to sell SFR two days ago in a deal valued at more than 17 billion euros ($23 billion), will pay a special dividend or buy back shares after the projected completions of the deals this year, Philippe said on a call with analysts. The SFR deal must be approved by regulators and is expected to close at the end of 2014, while Vivendi’s sale of its stake in Maroc Telecom SA may be completed next month, he said.

Vivendi is transforming itself into a media company and selling off telecommunications assets to concentrate on broadcaster Canal+ and record label Universal Music Group. The company, which will prioritize debt repayment with the sale proceeds, expects to have about 5 billion euros in net cash after the two deals, Philippe said.

“We will come from a company which had debt, which still has debt, to a cash-positive company when the closing of those transactions is done,” Philippe said on the call. “The Vivendi board will consider the use of those proceeds in the future in the coming weeks.”

Paris-based Vivendi is also planning to keep its Brazilian broadband company GVT, he said. Vivendi abandoned plans to sell GVT in 2013 after it failed to attract acceptable bids.

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