Vivendi chief says Telecom Italia stake rise would be a long-term play

Vivendi CEO Arnaud De Puyfontaine said the company may make further investments in Telecom Italia in future, but added that such a move is not currently on the French media company's radar.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a business conference in Italy, de Puyfontaine explained that Telecom Italia is a key element in a Vivendi strategy focusing on southern Europe, Bloomberg reported. However, he added that no decisions have been made on further investment in the Italian operator because the strategy is a long-term play.

Vivendi replaced Telefónica as the largest shareholder in Telecom Italia in June when it built a 14.9 per cent stake in the Italian operator. The holding comprised an 8.3 per cent stake Vivendi gained when it agreed to sell Brazilian broadband company Global Village Telecom (GVT) to Telefónica, with the remainder acquired on the open market.

The French media company is looking to utilise a cash pot of €9 billion ($10 billion) raised through the sale of SFR in France and the GVT deal to bolster its ability to compete with Google, Apple and Sky, Bloomberg reported.

Vivendi explained that Italy is a key market for its future strategy in a statement released at the time it acquired its stake. It said the Italian operator provided it with "a foothold in a country with which it shares the same Latin culture and roots," and that the investment was "an opportunity for the group to be present and to expand in a market with significant growth prospects and a very strong appetite for quality content."

In a related interview at the same business conference, de Puyfontaine told Reuters that Vivendi is not currently seeking to increase its holding in Telefónica beyond the near 1 per cent it acquired through a share swap deal covering Telefónica Brasil.

However, the Vivendi chief refused to rule out a Telefónica stake increase in the future, Reuters reported.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg report
- view this related Reuters article
- read Vivendi's June statement on Telecom Italia (PDF)

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