Vivendi, Partner Approached for Polish Broadcaster TV

Vivendi SA’s Canal Plus pay-television unit and its co-investor in Poland ITI Group are considering a sale of their majority stake in Polish broadcaster TVN SA after being contacted by potential buyers.

Several strategic and financial investors expressed interest in recent months to acquire the 51 percent holding Canal Plus and media conglomerate ITI share in TVN, prompting the co-owners to review options, they said in a statement yesterday. Canal Plus said it will continue to run pay-TV channel nc+ and cooperate with TVN, which owns a 32 percent stake in the business, regardless of the outcome of the review.

TVN shares rose as much as 7 percent in Warsaw and traded 3.8 percent higher at 14.95 zloty, giving Poland’s second-largest television network a market value of 5.2 billion zloty ($1.6 billion).

Canal Plus combined its pay-TV assets in Poland with ITI’s three years ago as part of a push to expand its international audience. Under that agreement, Canal Plus has an option to acquire ITI’s stake in TVN in 2015 or 2017. Under Vincent Bollore, Vivendi’s new chairman, Canal Plus more recently has sought growth in Africa and unveiled a new channel in July.

Time Warner Inc., 21st Century Fox Inc., Discovery Communications Inc, Bertelsmann SE and RTL Group SA may be among potential bidders for the TVN stake, Polish newspaper Puls Biznesu reported today.

Advisers Hired

Bertelsmann and RTL aren’t interested in the asset, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing internal deliberations.

Financial and legal advisers have been hired for the TVN review process, which is at a preliminary stage, the Polish broadcaster said in a separate statement. If the review doesn’t lead to a sale, the existing arrangements will remain in place, the companies said.

“Canal+ Group will continue to maintain a strong footprint in Poland, its second-largest market after France,” the Vivendi unit said.

A slowdown in Poland’s advertising market, coupled with costs related to bond refinancing and a revaluation of assets, have weighed on TVN’s profits.

In France, Canal Plus faces declining revenues and tougher competition -- with Al-Jazeera’s beIN Sports pushing up prices of sports broadcasting rights, and Netflix Inc. having introduced its video-streaming service in Europe last month.

About a quarter of Canal Plus’s 2.7 billion euros ($3.5 billion) in first-half revenue came from outside France.

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