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Vivendi’s Broadcaster Canal+ Is Said to Explore London Listing

(Bloomberg)

(Bloomberg) -- Media conglomerate Vivendi SE’s Canal+ is exploring a potential listing on the London Stock Exchange, according to people familiar with the matter.

The French company, controlled by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, is working with advisers including BNP Paribas SA to work on the spinoff of the broadcaster, the people said. A listing could take place as soon as the end of this year, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. The spinoff comes as Vivendi is looking to speed up its long-awaited breakup plan which has been in the works since last year, the people said.

Deliberations are ongoing and no final decisions on timing and venue have been made, the people said. Other listing venues such as Amsterdam could still be considered, they added. Representatives for BNP Paribas and Vivendi declined to comment, while a representative for Canal+ didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Vivendi surged as much as 6.3% and touched the highest level since June 2022 after the Bloomberg News report.

Vivendi has said it is studying a plan to split into four listed units to extract better value from its assets — which span from pay-TV to advertising, music and publishing — and to boost its share price. The proposal would create standalone listings for Havas and Vivendi’s publishing arm, besides Canal+. The French company listed its most valuable business — Universal Music Group NV — in 2021 in Amsterdam. The stock has since risen 9%, valuing it at about €50 billion ($54 billion), which is bigger than Vivendi’s €11 billion market value.

Canal+ has evolved from a French TV channel to a studio that creates entertainment content and a distributor of third-party channels and platforms such as Bein Sports, Netflix and Disney+, according to its website. It has 26.4 million subscribers in more than 50 countries. Its revenues rose 4.3% to €1.5 billion in the first quarter, accounting for about 36% of Vivendi’s total revenue. 

London is a more attractive listing destination for Canal+ as the broadcaster becomes more international. The company has been expanding in new markets, with investments in Swedish player Viaplay Group AB and Hong Kong-based streamer Viu, which focuses on Asia and the Middle East. It has proposed to acquire South Africa’s MultiChoice Group Ltd., the continent’s biggest pay-TV company.

For London, a major listing will be a much-needed victory after a drought of initial public offerings for years having lost major names like chip designer Arm Holdings Plc to New York, and listed firms such as CRH Plc also seeking to tap the deeper investor pool across the Atlantic. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority on Thursday announced new rules for listings to try to attract more issuers to the city.

(Updates Vivendi’s share move in fourth paragraph.)

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