August 16, 2012 / 10:16 PM / 7 years ago

Vivendi hires banks to gauge options for Brazilian unit-source

* Deutsche Bank, Rothschild hired for GVT options

* Vivendi undergoing review of assets, structure

SAO PAULO, Aug 16 (Reuters) - French media and telecommunications giant Vivendi hired the investment-banking units of Rothschild and Deutsche Bank to gauge strategic options for its GVT phone unit in Brazil, a source with knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Thursday.

Europe’s largest telecoms and entertainment group is currently reviewing its structure to reverse a 29 percent slump in its share price since January last year, and several investment banks were pitching ideas to sell units or break up the business up completely.

Vivendi paid about $4 billion for GVT late in 2009, after winning a bidding battle against Spain’s Telefonica . GVT, an alternative provider of fixed telephone, broadband Internet and pay-TV in 120 Brazilian cities, may attract interest from Telefonica and Grupo Oi, both fixed and mobile players in Brazil, and Telecom Italia via its TIM Brasil unit, bankers and analysts have said.

Representatives for Deutsche Bank and Rothschild declined to comment. Vivendi, through a spokeswoman in Sao Paulo, said the company does not “comment on market speculation.”

The source, who requested to remain anonymous because the talks are private, did not comment on the nature of the mandate. Vivendi’s board’s thinking has evolved recently from seeing the Brazilian broadband provider as a must-keep asset to one that it would consider selling at the right price.

A sale of GVT could be worth up to $10 billion and comes after the French group’s exploratory talks to offload video games unit Activision Blizzard found few takers at the price it sought, the sources said.

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