Rumour Mill: Vivendi, Iliad owner eye Dailymotion after Yahoo! debacle

Vivendi and Iliad founder Xavier Neal have waded into the Dailymotion saga by each offering to buy the video-sharing company from France Telecom, Reuters reported.

Citing an article on French subscription-only online news service WanSquare, Reuters said Vivendi, which owns French mobile operator SFR, and a consortium made up of Iliad founder Xavier Niel, Lazard banker Matthieu Pigasse and industrialist Pierre Berge have made bids, although at a much lower price than previously offered by Yahoo!

As the founder of Iliad, Niel is also behind the launch of the disruptive French mobile operator Free Mobile.

France Telecom had been in talks to sell a 75 per cent stake in Dailymotion to Yahoo!, but the plan met with opposition from French Industry Minister Arnaud Montebourg. Montebourg said he disliked the idea of one of France's most successful startups being "devoured" by a U.S. company.

The move by the French government has been roundly criticised, and has reignited the debate about whether France is supportive enough of businesses in general and entrepreneurs in particular, and whether the government interferes too much in the economy.

France Telecom has itself been critical of the move by the government: Reuters previously reported the operator's CEO Stephane Richard as saying that state intervention was inappropriate, and that he would seek another partner.

"Dailymotion is a unit of France Telecom and not of the state. It is the company, its management and board that should manage this issue," Richard said in an interview with Les Echos, Reuters reported.

For more:
- see this WanSquare article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this separate Reuters article

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