Vivendi SA (formerly known as Vivendi Universal) is a French multinational mass media company headquartered in Paris, France. The company has activities in music, television and film.
Vivendi is a company primarily focused on digital entertainment. It owns French TV channel and movie producer the Canal+ Group, as well as music world leader Universal Music Group. On July 25, 2013, Vivendi asset Activision Blizzard announced the purchase of 429 million shares from Vivendi for $5.83 billion, dropping the shareholder from a 63% stake to 11.8% by the end of the deal in September, ending Vivendi's majority ownership of Activision Blizzard. In 2014, Vivendi decided to sell mobile companies SFR (France) to Patrick Drahiâs company, Numericable and GVT (Brazil) to the Spanish company Telefonica. In November 2013, it signed the definitive agreement to sell its majority and controlling stake in Maroc Telecom (Morocco) to Etisalat based in Abu Dhabi.
Vivendi's new president Vincent BollorÃ©, appointed in June 2014, wants to continue resolutely on the chosen path and aims at developing synergies between the company's subsidiaries now refocused on media: Canal+ Group and Universal Music Group.
Television: Canal+ Group
Canal+ Group is the leading pay television group in France. It is also an international movie and television series producer and distributor with StudioCanal. In November 2013, Vivendi became the exclusive owner of the Franceâs biggest pay-TV company.
Music: Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is the world's number one music producer with more than 30% of the global market. It produces artists such as Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Maroon 5, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Fergie, Justin Bieber and Nicki Minaj. Universal Music Group is also the largest church music publisher.
On December 14, 1853, a water company named Compagnie GÃ©nÃ©rale des Eaux (CGE) was created by an imperial decree of Napoleon III. In 1854, CGE obtained a concession in order to supply water to the public in Lyon, serving in that capacity for over a hundred years. In 1861, it obtained a 50-year concession with the City of Paris.
For more than a century, Compagnie GÃ©nÃ©rale des Eaux remained largely focused on the water sector. However, following the appointment of Guy Dejouany as CEO in 1976, CGE extended its activities into other sectors with a series of takeovers. Beginning in 1980, CGE began diversifying its operations from water into waste management, energy, transport services, and construction and property. It acquired the Compagnie GÃ©nÃ©rale d'Entreprises Automobiles (CGEA), specialized in industrial vehicles, which was later divided into two branches: Connex and Onyx Environnement. CGE then acquired the Compagnie GÃ©nÃ©rale de Chauffe, and later the Montenay group. The Energy Services division these companies became part of, was later (1998) renamed Dalkia.
In 1983, CGE helped to found Canal+, the first Pay-TV channel in France, and in the 1990s, they began expanding into telecommunications and mass media, especially after Jean-Marie Messier succeeded Guy Dejouany on June 27, 1996. In 1996, CGE created Cegetel to take advantage of the 1998 deregulation of the French telecommunications market, accelerating the move into the media sector which would culminate in the 2000 demerger into Vivendi Universal and Vivendi Environnement (Veolia).
Creation of "Vivendi"
In 1998, Compagnie GÃ©nÃ©rale des Eaux changed its name to Vivendi, and sold off its property and construction divisions the following year to what would become VINCI. Vivendi went on to acquire stakes in or merge with Maroc Telecom, Havas, Cendant Software, Anaya, and NetHold, a large Continental European pay-TV operator. Beginning in 1998, Vivendi launched digital channels in Italy, Spain, Poland, Scandinavia, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
In June 1999, Vivendi merged with PathÃ©, the exchange ratio for the merger fixed at three Vivendi shares for every two PathÃ© shares. The Wall Street Journal estimated the value of the deal at US$2.59 billion. Following the completion of the merger, Vivendi retained PathÃ©'s interests in British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC and CanalSatellite, a French broadcasting corporation, then sold all remaining assets to JÃ©rÃ´me Seydoux's family-owned holding company, Fornier SA, who changed its name to PathÃ©.
In July 2000, Vivendi spun off its water and waste companiesâ"once its core businessâ"along with interests in other public service sectors such as transport into Vivendi Environnement (IPO in Paris in July 2000 and in New York in October 2001), later (2003) renamed Veolia Environnement.
Vivendi Universal SA was created on December 8, 2000 with the merger of the Vivendi SA media empire with Canal+ television networks and the acquisition of Canadian company Seagram Company Ltd, owner of Universal Studios.
Vivendi Universal acquired MP3.com and a leading American publisher, Houghton Mifflin in year 2001.
Vivendi Universal disclosed a corporate loss of â¬23.3 billion in its 2002 annual report. It responded with financial reshuffling, trying to shore up media holdings while selling off shares in its spin-off companies. Amid intense media scrutiny, its chairman and CEO, Jean-Marie Messier (who had overseen the most dramatic phase of the company's diversification), was subsequently replaced by Jean-RenÃ© Fourtou. Messier was found guilty of embezzlement in 2011, but not before he was paid over US$20 million as part of his severance package. The company reduced its stake in Vivendi Environnement to 40% and sold its stake in VINCI. The company then began reorganizing to stave off bankruptcy, announcing a strategy to sell non-strategic assets. Its largest single shareholder was the family of Edgar Bronfman, Jr., who was head of Seagram at the time of the merger. Vivendi sold its stake in Vizzavi to Vodafone, with the exception of Vizzavi France. It also sold 20.4% of Vivendi Environnement's capital to a group of investors, and its stake in North American satellite operator EchoStar Communications Corporation. It also sold Houghton Mifflin to Thomas H Lee, Blackstone and Bain consortium for US$1.66 billion. Also in 2002, Vivendi Universal sold the Belgian and Dutch activities of its subsidiary Scoot Europe to Kapitol, the parent company of online directory Infobel.
In 2003, Vivendi Universal sold Canal+ Technologies to Thomson (formerly Thomson MultimÃ©dia); Tele+ to News Corporation and Telecom Italia. It also sold its 26.3% interest in Xfera. On December 1, Vivendi Universal closed a deal to sell MP3.com to CNET. Despite predictions that it would be unable to raise the cash needed, VU bought out one of the two minority shareholders in Cegetel, taking its holding to 60 percent, with Vodafone holding the remaining 40 percent. Management viewed the mobile communications firm as a core asset once the bulk of media assets had been sold off.
In 2004, 80% of the Vivendi Universal Entertainment branch was sold to GE, to form NBC Universal, with VU retaining a 20 percent stake. At the same time, it sold a 50% stake in Canal+ and StudioCanal to the new company. Vivendi also sold its interests in Kencell (re-branded Celtel, Kenya), Monaco Telecom and Sportfive (which it held through Canal+ Group), and sold Newsworld International to the business partnership of Joel Hyatt and former Vice-President of the United States Al Gore.
On December 16, 2005, it was announced that Canal Plus would merge with TPS, France's second largest Pay-TV provider. If the â¬5 billion (US$5.9 billion; Â£3.4 bn) tie-up is approved, VU will own 85% of the combined entity.
On January 17, 2006, Vivendi Universal announced it would end its American Depositary Receipt program and its listing on the New York Stock Exchange by the end of the second quarter of 2006, due to lowered trading volume on its shares and high costs.
On April 20, 2006, Vivendi in its current form came into existence, following the sale of an 80% stake in the Vivendi Universal Entertainment unit to General Electric to form NBC Universal (merging GE's NBC unit and Vivendi's Vivendi Universal Entertainment unit) and the gradual recovery of the company from its disastrous over-expansion in the late 1990s and the early 2000s. The company announced that shareholders had approved the name change to "Vivendi".
In August 2006, Vivendi signed a deal with Spiralfrog to distribute Vivendi's songs online in the United States and Canada. On 8 September, the company announced that Sierra Entertainment, a division of its Vivendi Games group, would be publishing the new game for Double Fine Productions, later revealed to be BrÃ¼tal Legend.
On December 2, 2007, Vivendi announced that it would be merging its Vivendi Games unit with Activision in a $18.8 billion deal. This will allow the merged company, Activision Blizzard, to rival Electronic Arts, the world's biggest video games publisher. The merger closed on July 9, 2008, for $9.8 billion. Vivendi held a 52% majority stake in the new business.
On September 8, 2009, Vivendi announced negotiations to buy the Brazilian phone operator Global Village Telecom (GVT). Vivendi took control of GVT at a cost of 56 reais per share, on November 13, trumping TelefÃ³nica's bid.
On December 3, 2009, GE announced it would purchase Vivendi's stake in NBC Universal, which would become a joint venture between GE and Comcast. Vivendi sold its stake in NBC Universal on January 25, 2011.
On April 4, 2011, Vodafone Group plc sold its 44% stake in mobile service provider SFR to Vivendi SA for about $11 billion and giving Vivendi SA full control of its largest unit.
In 2012, Vivendi announced having entered a strategic review of its assets and decided to refocus its activities on media and content activities while maximizing its telecoms assets.
In October 2013, as a result of its strategic review, it sold the majority of its interest in Activision Blizzard, keeping a 12% stake in the games company.
In November 2013, Vivendi also sold its 53% stake in Maroc Telecom to Dubai-based Etisalat for around $4.2 billion.
Vivendi also confirmed in November 2013 its intention to launch a demerger plan which would result in Vivendi becoming an international media group centered around Canal+, Universal Music Group and GVT, while SFR would be listed separately on the stock market. As a result of the foregoing, Vivendi group results for the first semester 2014 are in a strong growth, witnessing the success of its repositioning strategy. Net income was up 84,8% to â¬1.9 billion. In August 2014 Vivendi sells GVT to TelefÃ´nica Vivo, a subsidiary of TelÃ©fonica in Brazil.
The moves have allowed Vivendi to rapidly pay down debt and increase cash returns to shareholders while leaving it with ammunition to do acquisitions of its own. Indeed, once the SFR deal closes, Vivendi will have a cash pile of around â¬5 billion, leaving it with some room to maneuver even after it pays down debt and returns nearly â¬5 billion in dividends and share buybacks to shareholders.
Vivendiâs priority is now content. The French group is expected to expand its assets in the content industries in the coming year.
On May 28, 2014, Vivendi sold half of its remaining shares (nearly 41.5 million shares) in Activision Blizzard for $850 million, reducing its stake to 6%.
In April 2015, it was announced that a shareholder in the company BollorÃ© raised its stake from 10.2 percent to 12.01 percent for a total fee of â¬568 milion.
In 2015, Vivendi bought 80% share in DailyMotion. According to the Wall Street Journal, the "French media group offered around $273 million for streaming service". Vivendi was in talks with Orange, to Buy 80% stake in Dailymotion. Also, Vivendi announced extra payouts in compromise with P. Schoenfeld Asset Management shareholder.
- List of French companies
- Official website
- Vivendi cultural diversity website
- Vivendi online platform for debate and information on culture and creation