Vivendi Chiefs Dismiss Conspiracy Accusations

05 June 2006

Vivendi chairman Jean-René Fourtou and senior board member Claude Bébéar have come out fighting against press allegations that they supported an attempt by investment company Sebastian Holdings to break up the French media and telecoms giant [WAM: 24-Apr-06].

Fourtou, Axa insurance chairman Bébéar, and Vivendi ceo Jean-Bernard Lévy met with journalists late last week to clarify the rejection of Sebastian's plan to sell off the conglomerate's assets, including its pay-television business Canal Plus Group.

Bébéar, who heads the board's strategy committee, said: "Dismantling Vivendi today would be stupid."

He told the assembled journalists that he had been contacted by Amir Jahanchahi, an Iranian associate of Sebastian's head Alexander Vik, but said he then promptly contacted Fourtou about the approach.

Norwegian Vik has a 1.19% stake in Vivendi, although he claims more shares are owned on his behalf elsewhere.

Fourtou said he doubted the investor could fund a takeover of the company. He added that he would take an offer more seriously if Sebastian came with private equity backers.

He commented: "If they had come in with Apollo or Blackstone, it would have been something else. But on its own, Sebastian has no credibility."

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff