Vivendi gets board approval for SFR telecom business, names Bollore as chairman

Vivendi has made it official that it will separate its telecom unit from its growing media and content activities and has named Vincent Bollore as its new chairman.

Bollore, who already serves as vice chair of the company's supervisory board and is a 5 percent shareholder, will take over the post from current chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou when it completes its demerger in the second half of next year.

According to a report in Reuters citing an article from Le Monde, Fourtou fought with Bollore over his ambition to have more input in the company's future. Fourtou added that he expected Bollore could replace him as chairman of the media division after the company realignment is complete.

The company has tapped Hearst Magazines' head of media and content activities Arnaud de Puyfontaine to run Vivendi's remaining businesses, while Jean-Yves Charlier will continue in his role as chairman and CEO of SFR.

The company said that the demerger plan will take the form of a distribution of shares in French telecom operator SFR to Vivendi shareholders. It added that a stock listing for SFR would offer Vivendi shareholder the opportunity to invest in two separate vehicles, valued according to the specifics of their respective sectors.

"It would offer them the opportunity to invest in two separate vehicles listed on the stock market and valued according to the specifics of their respective sectors," Vivendi said in a statement.

However, Vivendi did not reveal what it would do with GVT, its Brazilian telecom subsidiary.

This demerger is part of the company's broader realignment to reduce debt and focus its attention on media, including consuming digital media in music and video. In July, Vivendi announced it would sell its 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom and a deal to sell most of its 61 percent stake in video game firm Activision Blizzard.

Vivendi said that it would present the demerger plan to the regulators for approval and then seek shareholder approval at their next annual meeting next June.

For more:
- Reuters has this article

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