(Updates with industry context from third paragraph.)
Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Vivendi SA, the owner of the world’s largest music and video-game companies, is in talks to buy a stake in Polish television network TVN SA from its controlling shareholder ITI Holdings SA, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Vivendi, based in Paris, may initially make an investment smaller than the 56 percent currently held by ITI Holdings SA, and then gradually build up to buying all of its stake, the person said, declining to be identified because the talks are private. Vivendi and its Canal-Plus pay-TV unit are acting alone in the talks, the person added.
European media and telecommunications companies are looking increasingly toward emerging markets in eastern Europe and the Middle East to offset slower growth in their home countries. Axel Springer AG, Europe’s largest newspaper publisher, last year agreed to a joint venture in eastern Europe with Switzerland’s Ringier AG, creating a combined entity that’s one of the region’s biggest media operators.
Spokespeople for Vivendi and ITI declined to comment.
Canal Plus said today it’s in exclusive discussions on a “strategic partnership” with TVN, without giving further details. TVN shares fell as much as 3.4 percent after that announcement, and traded down 2.4 percent as of 1:40 p.m., Warsaw time. Vivendi shares were up 4.8 percent in broadly positive European markets.
Vivendi, whose assets include record label Universal Music and Activision Blizzard, the publisher of video games like Call of Duty, already operates in the Polish television market through Canal Plus, which owns the country’s second-largest satellite-TV operator.
TVN’s assets include Poland’s biggest Internet portal, Onet.pl, and N, its third-largest satellite-TV provider.
An eventual merger of, or partnership between, Canal Plus’s Polish operations and TVN “makes sense” and would help consolidate the Polish TV market, while reducing Vivendi’s exposure to the costs of a takeover of 100 percent of the broadcaster, UBS AG analyst Polo Tang wrote in a note to clients today.
The French company has limited resources for major acquisitions after agreeing to buy Vodafone Group Plc’s stake in French mobile operator SFR earlier this year for almost 8 billion euros.
Separately, Vivendi’s Universal Music Group has withdrawn its bid for EMI Group’s recorded music division, a person with knowledge of the matter said today.
--Editors: Chris V. Nicholson, Kenneth Wong
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