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Lagardere prepares Canal+ stake IPO: source
October 24, 2012 / 12:45 PM / in 5 years

Lagardere prepares Canal+ stake IPO: source

PARIS (Reuters) - Lagardere is preparing a fresh attempt to list its 20 percent stake in pay-TV operator Canal+ France, a person familiar with the matter said.

Lagardere was aiming to list the stake last year but abandoned the operation in March just as marketing to investors was set to begin because of market volatility following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

It recently re-hired the same banks to advise it on the IPO, specifically BNP Paribas and JPMorgan, the person said. Lagardere could not be reached for comment.

French media and telecoms group Vivendi owns 80 percent of Canal+ France, and the two sides have in the past held talks about Vivendi buying out Lagardere but were not able to agree on valuation.

Lagardere values its 20 percent stake in Canal+ France at 1.2 billion euros ($1.56 billion) in its books, but a sector banker predicted it was now worth less than 900 million.

Canal+ has a new rival in pay-TV in France after Qatar-backed Al Jazeera in August launched a subscription sports channel, which now competes with Canal+ for customers and exclusive content.

An NYSE Euronext source said that preparations for the IPO were in the “home stretch” and that the listing could take place near the end of the year.

Another source at a bank involved in the listing cautioned that it would be “extremely difficult” to pull off the IPO this year.

In late August, Lagardere’s finance chief, Dominique D‘Hinnin, said the group had begun discussions with Vivendi about the listing, which he called the group’s “main priority”.

Lagardere has been promising investors for several years that it would seek to sell its non-media assets, including a 7.5 percent stake in aerospace giant EADS and Canal+.

Analysts see such divestments as key to the investment case for Lagardere, whose market capitalization has fallen by 60 percent in the past five years.

Vivendi, which is in the midst of seeking to sell assets to pay down debt and boost its flagging shares, is being advised on the Canal+ France listing by Societe Generale and Nomura.

($1 = 0.7714 euros)

Additional reporting by Matthieu Protard; Editing by James Regan

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