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Vivendi’s Canal+ makes mandatory buyout offer for South Africa’s MultiChoice

FRENCH media group Vivendi’s Canal+ made an all-cash mandatory offer to buy all the shares of South African broadcaster MultiChoice it does not already own for 35 billion rands ($1.9 billion), both companies said.

That offer at 125 rands per share follows an indicative offer of 105 rands made by Canal+ on Feb. 1, which MultiChoice rejected as significantly undervaluing the company.

The need to make a mandatory offer was triggered by Canal+, MultiChoice’s biggest shareholder, subsequently raising its holding in the firm above the 35% threshold. Its new offer values MultiChoice, in which it now owns a 36.6% stake, at about 55 billion rand, according to Reuters calculations.

By 0759 GMT, shares in MultiChoice were up 3.7% at 116 rand.

The deal would create a pan-African broadcasting powerhouse with about 31.5 million subscribers across over 50 countries, able to put African content to global audiences as well as compete on an international scale.

The French media company has a broad reach in French-speaking African nations, while MultiChoice has a stronger presence in English-speaking countries, including South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.

Canal+ said it believes the competitive landscape for Africa’s media and entertainment industry will undergo further profound changes as the continent rapidly adopts broadband and mobile internet. Smartphone adoption is also rising.

“A combined group would be better positioned to address key structural challenges and opportunities resulting from the progressive digitalisation and globalisation of the media and entertainment sector,” the companies said.

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MultiChoice’s independent board constituted for the deal will now consider the bid.

Canal+ reserves the right to buy more MultiChoice shares in the market during the course of the offer. Should the French company buy these shares at more than 125 rand each, it is obliged to increase the offer price, according to the statement.

REGULATORY HURDLE

For the deal to be successful, the French broadcaster will need to navigate the country’s stringent Black economic ownership requirements and restrictions on foreign media ownership, which caps voting rights at 20%.

Maxime Saada, chairman and CEO of Canal+ Group, told Reuters there are workable solutions around that which “of course will require us to have local partners”.

Last month Bloomberg reported that billionaire Patrice Motsepe could join Canal+’s bid.

The companies said they intend to comply with all applicable laws and will provide further details in this regard.

By NQOBILE DLUDLA

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