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Vivendi ‘in talks’ over beIN Sports acquisition

Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré and other top executives of the media group met French football leaders on Friday to reassure them that they would not be disadvantaged by a deal between Vivendi and beIN Sports France, according to sports newspaper L’Équipe.

Vincent BolloreBolloré indicated that talks with beIN Sports France were at an advanced stage, without giving details. That happened in the wake of speculation that Vivendi was preparing to acquire its pay TV rival.

Citing unnamed sources, L’Équipe said that Bolloré met Frédéric Thiriez, the president of the French profressional football league (LFP) and Jean-Michel Aulas, president of leading team Olympique Marseille, at Vivendi’s HQ and revealed to them that a deal with beIN Sport is in the offing, without giving specific details, in a move intended to convince the football chiefs that this development would not disadvantage them.

It is likely that any deal would be studied by the country’s competition regulator, the Autorité de la Concurrence, amid concern that it could lead to a fall in the price of rights.

Vivendi is set to unveil its annual results on February 18, raising speculation that a deal might be announced at this date.

Last month a number of French analysts, including those of BNP Paribas and Natixis, suggested that the Qatar-owned beIN Sport might be interested in a deal, despite public pronouncements to the contrary, because it is under considerable financial pressure.

Canal+ is similarly under pressure amid declining subscribers numbers in mainland France and a diminution in the top-tier sports rights it can deploy to build up its customer base.