Vivendi Back in Acquisition Mode

23 July 2004

After nearly three years of contraction following the ousting of Jean-Marie Messier, the once unstoppable dealmaker and chairman/ceo of Vivendi Universal, the company is once again on the acquisition trail.

Word from the well-informed French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaîné is that Vivendi is immersed in informal merger talks with compatriot Lagardère, one of the world's largest magazine publishers with additional interests in book, radio, aerospace and telecoms businesses.

But, according to insiders from both sides of the table, a full-blooded one hundred percent merger is unlikely -- even though the idea has received benediction from the French government.

Arnaud Lagardère, chairman of the eponymous group is reportedly unwilling to cede control of the company which was founded by his father who died last year.

Which means that Vivendi would have to agree to the merged company beinge controlled by Lagardère fils -- an unlikely scenario given that Vivendi is by far the larger of the two groups.

But a relationship of sorts is still said to be in the offing. There is much appeal on corporate, governmental and patriotic grounds for a media conglomerate predominant in -- and controlled by nationals of -- La Belle France.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff