* Says there are “no taboos” in structure review
* Hybrid conglomerate model depressing share price
By Leila Abboud
BARCELONA, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Media-to-telecom conglomerate Vivendi on Thursday held out the prospect of implementing its new strategic plan within the coming quarters.
The group has said there are “no taboos” in its quest for a fresh direction after realising that its hybrid bundling of telecom, music, pay-TV and video games units lacks synergies and is unattractive to shareholders.
Vivendi has been reviewing its structure since April in an effort to revive a flagging share price and pay down its debt.
Before the strategy overhaul began, Vivendi shares were mired around 12 euros, a low not seen for a decade.
The stock has recovered since April and by 0930 GMT was trading around 15.95 euros, up 1.5 percent on the day.
Asked when Vivendi would take action on its strategy review and asset sales, Finance Director Philippe Capron told an investor conference held by Morgan Stanley: ”We are not under immediate pressure and have given ourselves no specific calendar.
“But we have raised hopes in the investor community that we cannot disappoint by taking years and years to figure out what we want to be. We will likely need to act in the coming quarters.”
The group is working on sales of Brazilian telco GVT and Maroc Telecom, sources have told Reuters, and earlier sought to sell video game maker Activision Blizzard but got no bids at the price it wanted.
Preliminary bids for GVT are due by year-end and four companies have requested information documents to allow them to decide whether to submit offers, sources have said, while talks over Maroc Telecom are also at an early stage but proceeding.
Along with Vivendi’s powerful chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou, French corporate raider Vincent Bollore, who recently became the group’s biggest shareholder with 5 percent of the shares, will play a large role in the deliberations over Vivendi’s future.
With Bollore set to join the board, Capron acknowledged that Vivendi hoped to draw on his track record of investing and pushing for change at companies like French industrial Vallourec and advertising agency Aegis.
“We welcome his advice,” said Capron. “Before, there were no major shareholders voices on board. With the arrival of Bollore, shareholders will have someone on the board they can trust and whose interests are fully aligned with theirs.”