Vivendi’s Bollore Seeks Closer Ties Among Media Assets

Billionaire Vincent Bollore, the Vivendi SA investor who took over as chairman today, said he’ll oversee the company’s transformation into a media business and seek cooperation among its TV and music units.

Vivendi has announced more than $30 billion of asset sales since it began a strategy review about two years ago, including the pending disposal of mobile-phone unit SFR in a $23 billion deal. Remaining units Universal Music Group, pay-TV provider Canal Plus and Brazilian Internet company GVT will work together more closely, Bollore said in his first address to shareholders at an annual general meeting.

“I have a clear strategy: it’s to transform this financial holding into an integrated content group,” said Bollore, 62. “There’s hidden value at Vivendi -- it’s in convergence, in the synergies we can get.”

Offering examples of how the businesses may cooperate, Bollore said Universal Music may help Canal Plus push into the U.S. market, while GVT may help distribute Universal Music content in Brazil. Former Chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou will remain at Paris-based Vivendi as honorary president, advising on further integration of divisions, Vivendi said in a statement.

Under Fourtou, Vivendi has been revamping its strategy around television and music, and it plans to return 5 billion euros ($6.8 billion) to shareholders by 2015 through dividends and share buybacks after completing planned divestments.

At today’s meeting, Fourtou emphasized the importance of the GVT business for Vivendi. “GVT is an important asset to develop a media strategy,” he said. “There’s a reason to keep GVT within the Vivendi group.”

Vivendi rose 0.4 percent to 19.19 euros in Paris, taking the gain to 36 percent in the past 12 months and giving the company a market value of 25.9 billion euros.

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