08.47 Europe/London, September 9, 2011 By Julian Clover

Canal+ Group is to take a 60% share in the free-to-air channel business operated by the Bolloré Group, which includes the Direct 8 and Direct Star channels. The transaction, valued at €465 million, will be paid for entirely through shares in Canal’s parent Vivendi.

Canal will take control of the operational management of the channels and their advertising sales division, a move that Bolloré believes will give a new impetus to the channels that already have the benefit of being distributed over the DTT system.

“This partnership is intended to prepare the CANAL+ Group for the arrival in the television sector of new operators such as Apple, Netflix, Google, etc. In a context in which these global players have enormous resources and the consumer is confronted with an abundance of choice, the company’s entry into the free television market will enable it to strengthen its capacity to produce distinctive content and enhance its editorial lines with high-quality programmes, while using all available operating media to exploit those programmes, said Canal+ chairman Bernard Meheut.

Yannick Bolloré, his opposite number at Bolloré said it provided e employees of Direct Star and Direct 8 with a tremendous opportunity. “After a successful track record over the last few years, in which have become the first independent television operator in France, this merger would enable our channels to experience further successes in a media industry undergoing rapid changes with the advent of all-digital and the arrival of new operators.”

The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals.