(Corrects to say Vivendi has received expressions of interest, not preliminary offers, from bidders in paragraph 1)
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal and Leila Abboud
SAO PAULO/PARIS, Nov 7 (Reuters) - France’s Vivendi SA seeks to raise at least 7 billion euros ($8.9 billion) from the sale of Brazilian unit GVT and has attracted expressions of interest from at least four bidders, said two sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
Both sources, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Brazil’s Grupo Oi SA, Mexico’s America Movil SAB, DirecTV and Telecom Italia SpA were taking part in initial talks involving GVT.
Several investment funds have also shown interest in GVT, one of the sources added, without elaborating.
Vivendi, which is selling assets to cut debt and improve its flagging share price, aims to receive binding offers for GVT in the first quarter, both sources said. The GVT sale is a sign that Paris-based Vivendi is looking to scale back its presence in telecommunications to focus more on its media assets, the sources said.
Vivendi decided to put GVT on the block this summer as it undertakes a review of its portfolio of businesses in mobile telephony, video games and music. Europe’s largest media and telecommunications conglomerate is also seeking a buyer for its controlling stake in Maroc Telecom.
“Synergies between GVT and other Vivendi units were not as strong as the company first imagined,” one of the sources told Reuters. “But that doesn’t mean that Vivendi will go on a New Year’s sale mode and sell off GVT at any price. There is no way that will happen.”
Vivendi shares are up 28 percent since early April on hopes that management could remake the company, keep robust dividend payouts and protect the company’s investment-grade rating.
The stock had shed 68 percent between January 2011 and March this year, as investors questioned Vivendi’s telecom-and-media structure as well as its ability to sustain growth and profits given tough competition for its French telecom unit, SFR.
A spokesman for Vivendi declined to comment. (Additional reporting by Sophie Sassard in London and Danilo Massoni in Milan; Editing by Todd Benson and Lisa Von Ahn)