(Adds details, background)
By Leila Abboud
PARIS, April 24 French conglomerate Vivendi
said it would pay out close to 5 billion euros in
dividends and buy backs this year and next, rewarding
shareholders after three major asset sales including that of its
biggest unit, telecom operator SFR.
The plan, which will be put to a vote at a June 24
shareholder meeting, caps Vivendi's two year-old strategy
overhaul to cut exposure to capital-intensive telecoms
activities and focus on media. It has already sold video games
maker Activision Blizzard and is soon to close a sale
of Maroc Telecom to Gulf operator Etisalat.
The board proposed to spend 1.34 billion on dividends this
year, offering 1 euro per share, with 0.50 euros attributed to
the 2013 performance and 0.50 euros as extra payout. The payment
would take place on June 30 and is stable from last year's
After the 17 billion euro sale of SFR to French cable
operator Numericable closes, Vivendi pledged to return
"a significant part of the available cash" or 3.5 billion euros
in dividends or share buy backs. The deal must be reviewed by
antitrust regulators in France and may close by year-end.
Vivendi also confirmed that tycoon Vincent Bollore, the
second-largest shareholder with 5 percent, will take over as
chairman once veteran Jean-Rene Fourtou steps aside.
The renewal of two board members and addition of two new
members, Philippe Bénacin, CEO of Interparfums, and Virginie
Morgon, deputy CEO of Eurazeo, will also be put up to
shareholder vote on June 24.
Vivendi shares closed up 1 percent to 20.13 euros on
Thursday. Vivendi stock price has risen more than 4 percent this
year so far, versus a 3 percent decline in the European media
(Editing by Sophie Walker)