Vivendi Chairman Vincent Bollore has upped his stake in Vivendi again, raising it to 14.5% a day after the billionaire businessman announced he had reached a truce with activist shareholders P. Schoenfeld Asset Management. Bollore has nearly tripled his Vivendi stake in just over a month, consolidating his grip on the French media giant just days before a crucial shareholders meeting scheduled for April 17.
In addition, Bollore has made a deal with P. Schoenfeld Asset Management to increase dividend payments over two years by an additional $2.10 a share on top of the previously announced $1 a share dividend. The new dividend will be paid out in two tranches, at the end of this year and then again in 2016.
The deal saves Bollore any potential oil slicks at the shareholders meeting April 17. In return, P. Schoenfeld Asset Management has agreed to drop its demands for the higher dividend, as well as the sale of Universal Music Group, one of Vivendi’s two major assets alongside French pay TV Canal +.
In a further sign of Bollore’s strategic genius, PSAM also have s agreed to vote against another activist shareholder who had wanted Vivendi to exempt itself from a new French law giving longer-term shareholders such as Bollorée twice as many votes as new investors.
A statement by PSAM confirmed “these distributions are a major step forward and demonstrate that Vivendi and its management team are able to take into account the interest of its shareholders within a constructive dialogue.”
Arnaud de Puyfontaine, Chairman of the Management Board, added that “these distributions demonstrate our willingness to reach a consensus with some of our minority shareholders, even if it may result in reduced flexibility for Vivendi in the implementation of its strategic ambition to build a major media and content group.”
Bollore has streamlined Vivendi ever since he first made public his intention to acquire a 5% stake in 2012. Since then he has overseen the sales of Vivendi’s stakes in telcos SFR in France and Maroc Telecom in Morocco as well as video game publisher Activision Blizzard. Vivendi’s share price has risen more than 30% since September 2012 as a result.
The company now is sitting on a war chest of some $15 billion, part of which it intends to spend on strategically expanding its media activities.