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Vivendi considering taking over Sky

MUMBAI: French media conglomerate Vivendi is considering a takeover bid for pay TV group Sky as part of its expansion plan for its own Canal Plus.

A Reuters report states that Vivendi, which also owns Universal Music Group, is looking at Sky after evaluating other, smaller European pay TV companies, particularly in such fast-growing markets as Turkey and other markets in Europe.

A deal between Vivendi and Sky would bring together two powerful business personalities Rupert Murdoch, whose 21st Century Fox owns 39 per cent of Sky, and Vivendi’s chairman Vincent Bollore, who recently raised his stake in the French group to 12 per cent.

The prospects for a sale of Sky improved last year when Britain’s largest pay TV company BSkyB bought most of Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia to become Sky Plc.

Sky operates in Britain, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy, and any deal would similarly open up more markets for Canal Plus and its parent.

Reuters adds that despite the appeal of a merger with Sky, a broadcaster with around 20 million subscribers, Vivendi has yet to decide on whether or not to go ahead with an offer, and that the deliberations are at an early stage.

Some of Vivendi’s top executives are reluctant to pursue a takeover of Sky because they think the deal would make the French conglomerate too exposed to the pay TV industry, where satellite TV is in danger of losing out to high-speed fixed-line alternatives.

Vivendi’s management is also busy fending off attacks from activist shareholder P Schoenfeld Asset Management (PSAM), which is asking for bigger payouts, the report says.