Lagardère threatens Canal+ France IPO

canalLagardère Group has confirmed it will set in motion an IPO for its 20% stake in the French unit of Canal+, after talks with prospective buyer Vivendi failed to find fruition.

Vivendi has the right to a first look at Lagardère ’s stake according to a 2007 deal under which Lagardère has until 2014 to sell the stake. But the two companies failed to agree a price for the stake, which is valued at around €1.2 billion to €1.4 billion. Lagardère was reportedly seeking the higher price for the stake.

A brief statement from Lagardère said: “Since Lagardère and Vivendi have not reached an agreement concerning the sale of Lagardère's stake in Canal+ France, Lagardère has decided, in accordance with the shareholders agreement signed on January 4, 2007, to launch the initial public offering (IPO) process for Canal+ France.”

Vivendi owns the remainder of Canal+ France and has been moving towards simplifying shareholding structures. But the company will not buy at any cost, wanting a discounted price for the minority stake. A 5.1% stake was purchased from M6 at the start of the year for €384 million, following a previous purchase from TF1 of 9.9% for €744 million.

Some observers have speculated that the announcement of the IPO by Lagardère is aimed at forcing Vivendi to come back to the table.