Taking a page from News Corp’s book, French conglomerate Vivendi is moving closer to splitting itself into two separate companies. Canal Plus and Universal Music Group owner Vivendi says it is launching a study to weigh a demerger that would create, on one side, a new international media group with interests in music, film, pay-TV and online. On the other side would be SFR, the mobile phone operator that Vivendi says would “gain greater freedom on strategy and developing partnerships.” A final decision on the split is expected early next year. The idea that Vivendi would break up its media and telecom assets has been floated before, but this is the first official indication. The company has long met with investor criticism over what’s known as the conglomerate discount – the difference between what a company’s holdings are worth and the real value the market places on the whole. Billionaire shareholder Vincent Bolloré told French financial daily Les Echos that the board was “unanimously agreed that there were no synergies between telecoms and content,” which was aggravating the share price. “I feel the split is an attractive plan, and it has my total support.” With a view to the new structure, Bolloré, who owns 5% of Vivendi, now becomes vice chairman of the supervisory board.
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