Denying it is exploiting Vivendi’s current problems, News Corporation on Tuesday lopped one third off the price it had originally offered for Telepiu, the lossmaking Italian pay-TV broadcaster owned jointly by Vivendi and Telecom Italia.
NewsCorp’s opening offer – €1.5 billion ($1.47bn; £0.96bn) – was withdrawn just three weeks after Vivendi signed a memorandum of understanding with the Murdoch-controlled company in a deal that would have merged Telepiu with NewsCorp-owned local pay-TV rival Stream. It would also have reduced Vivendi’s current debt burden by €1.2bn.
But a person close to the negotiations denied that NewsCorp’s latest move is capitalizing on Vivendi’s catalog of woes. “It’s not a question of taking advantage of Vivendi's management problems but of making the numbers add up. If anything, new management might be less desperate to cut a deal but the original offer doesn't make economic sense.”
One way in which it “doesn’t make economic sense” is the reluctance of Telecom Italia to become involved as a reduced shareholder in the new combined entity – the Murdoch half of which, Stream, is also bleeding cash. NewsCorp wants TI to double its stake but the telecoms giant is strangely unenthusiastic at the prospect of investing a further €300m to cover projected future losses.
Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff