16 October 2000

Vivendi’s merger with Seagram and Canal Plus, worth Euro24 billion, was approved by the European Commission on Friday after Vivendi assuaged fears surrounding its control over the pay-TV market.

Vivendi will sell its 22.7% holding in Britain's BSkyB and take measures to prevent Canal Plus becoming too powerful in pay-TV. Universal, owned by Seagram, will have to grant access to its films and online music to other firms, and Canal Plus will not get first rights on half of Universal’s films for the next five years.

The sale of the BSkyB shares will further strain Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier’s relationship with Rupert Murdoch, who was angry when Vivedi bought the stake. It is rumoured that Messier wants to sell the shares to Murdoch in return for a holding in Sky Global.

News source: Financial Times