PARIS, July 9 Vivendi is again working
on hiving off its largest unit, French mobile and fixed operator
SFR, according to a report in Les Echos newspaper, as it seeks
to reduce exposure to telecoms to concentrate on media
The French conglomerate is more than a year into a strategy
review that has included attempted asset sales, including the
ongoing sale of Maroc Telecom and the failed auction of
Brazilian telecom unit GVT.
It sees its telecom units as too capital intensive and low
growth, so prefers to develop its pay-TV, music and video games
A spin-off of SFR was one of the possibilities Vivendi
considered a year ago before putting it aside and it has
resurfaced in media reports several times since.
At Vivendi's annual meeting in late April, Chairman
Jean-Rene Fourtou said finding the best strategy for SFR was a
priority and that a public listing of the unit was also an
According to Les Echos, if Vivendi completes the sale of
Maroc Telecom by year end, it would then begin to work on the
split with an aim to carry it out by the middle of next year.
SFR would become a separate company, while GVT, Universal
Music Group, video games maker Activision Blizzard and pay-TV
provider Canal Plus would be in the new Vivendi media, the
newspaper said. Vivendi could later seek to revive the sale of
GVT, Les Echos added.
Nevertheless, tricky details about how to divide Vivendi's
debt between SFR and Vivendi media remain as well as the matter
of getting shareholder support for the split in which current
Vivendi shareholders would likely be given shares in both new
A spokesman for Vivendi declined to comment on Tuesday.
SFR is France's second biggest mobile operator. Like its
larger rival Orange and smaller Bouygues Telecom
, it has struggled since low-cost competitor Iliad
entered the French mobile market in January 2012.
SFR is expecting a 12 percent drop in its earnings before
interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) this year
to 2.9 billion euros ($3.80 billion).