Darty suitor Fnac gets lift from Vivendi

PARIS (Reuters) - French book and CD retailer Fnac's FNAC.PA shares jumped 6 percent on Tuesday after media group Vivendi VIV.PA said it would buy a 15 percent stake, giving the retailer more financial power to expand.

A customer walks in front of a store of electrical goods company Darty in Saint-Sebastien-sur-Loire near Nantes, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

Fnac is in a bidding war for London-listed electrical retailer Darty DRTY.L, but it was unclear if Vivendi's surprise move was connected to the Darty battle.

Fnac urged Darty shareholders on Tuesday to wait after South African retail conglomerate Steinhoff SNHG.DE on Monday posted the offer document related to its $975 million bid through its Conforama unit.

“Fnac is currently considering its options and urges Darty shareholders to take no further action at this time,” Fnac said in a statement.

Vivendi, led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, said late on Monday that it would acquire 15 percent of Fnac via a 159 million euro ($182 million) reserved capital increase, valuing Fnac at 54 euros per share.

“The timing of the deal may make the market wonder whether part of the aim of the deal is to help Fnac in its battle for Darty,” Kepler Cheuvreux analysts said in a note.

By 0838 GMT, Fnac shares were up 6.1 percent at 57.5 euros in Paris, while Darty shares had gained 3 percent to 134.03 pence in London. Vivendi shares were down 1 percent.

Vivendi also said it would take two seats on Fnac’s board.

The deal comes after Vivendi agreed on Friday to buy Italian broadcaster Mediaset's MS.MI pay-TV operation, completing a major step in Bollore's plan to build a southern European content and video-on-demand powerhouse.

Bollore has built minority stakes in Telecom Italia TLIT.MI, Italy's largest phone operator, and in French video game makers Ubisoft UBIP.PA and Gameloft GLFT.PA.

Vivendi’s deal with Fnac will lead to increased cooperation on live events and ticketing, and accelerate “Fnac’s international development, in particular in Southern Europe as well as in Africa where Vivendi has been operating for over 20 years,” Vivendi said in a statement.

Liberum analysts said in a note that it was nonetheless “not clear why Vivendi had to spend 160 million euros to get this sort of cooperation”.

Steinhoff said on Monday that its offer for Darty had the support of Darty’s biggest shareholder, Schroder Investment Management, which owns about 14 percent.

Darty shareholders have until May 2 to decide on whether to accept Conforama’s offer.

($1 = 0.8735 euros)

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Raphael Bloch; Editing by Susan Fenton