France Tel to search for another Dailymotion partner-report

PARIS Thu May 2, 2013 3:44am EDT

PARIS May 2 (Reuters) - France Telecom will search for a new partner for video-sharing website Dailymotion after France derailed its plan to sell a majority stake to Yahoo Inc , its CEO was quoted saying.

In an interview with newspaper Les Echos, Chief Executive Stephane Richard complained that the intervention of the state was inappropriate and the group's strategy for its subsidiary, which competes with Google Inc's YouTube, should be set by its management and board.

"Dailymotion is a unit of France Telecom and not of the state. It is the company, its management and board that should manage this issue," Richard said.

"We are not looking for financial backers. Our priority is to find a partner who can help develop Dailymotion outside Europe," he said.

"We have looked at more than 60 possible partners in France and abroad before focusing on Yahoo," Richard said, adding that the two groups had been close to signing a deal before the government intervention. "Now we will restart our search."

Yahoo had been in talks to acquire a 75 percent stake in Dailymotion, but Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg disliked the idea of one of the country's most successful start-ups being "devoured" by Americans and pushed for 50-50 ownership, leading the talks to collapse.

France Telecom, whose largest shareholder is the state with 27 percent, often grapples with state influence. Its chief executive is named by the government and it does not have a free hand in laying off workers.

But the intervention on the sale of a majority stake in Dailymotion, which employs roughly 165 people and would have had negligible impact on jobs, has been criticised by investors and analysts as heavy handed and bad for foreign investment.

Richard said there was no conflict with the state and rejected the idea that the company founded in 2005 would benefit from an injection of public money.

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