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Vivendi eyes Brazil mobile sector

05 марта 2010

Vivendi is to consider the case for moving into Brazil’s highly competitive mobile phone market, after last year concluding an ambitious deal to buy one of the country’s leading fixed-line broadband companies.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, Vivendi’s chief executive, told the Financial Times that the French conglomerate would “closely watch what is happening on the mobile scene in case we find some opportunities”, after last November finalising a €3bn ($4bn) deal to buy GVT, a fast-growing Brazilian fixed-line broadband company.

Mr Lévy also underlined Vivendi’s determination to buy Vodafone out of SFR, France’s second-largest mobile operator, that is jointly owned by the two groups.

Vittorio Colao, Vodafone’s chief executive, last November raised expectations that the UK mobile group could sell its 44 per cent stake in SFR this year by saying he did not like having minority stakes.

Mr Lévy said he had “no clear timeline” for a deal with Vodafone but reiterated his desire to take full ownership of the French mobile operator. Citi analysts value Vodafone’s SFR stake at £5.1bn ($7.7bn), and he said Vivendi’s share price contained a discount because it did not have full ownership of the operator.

Some analysts have criticised Vivendi’s move into Brazil where it has no experience, faces powerful competition, and lacks a mobile phone business.

Most of GVT’s rivals in Brazil’s fixed-line telecommunications market have mobile businesses, and Anatel, the country’s regulator, is considering holding an auction this year of radio spectrum that could go to a new operator wanting to provide nationwide wireless services.

Bernstein analysts estimate Vivendi would have to initially invest €1.5bn-€2bn on buying spectrum and building a mobile network, although the group could instead choose to purchase an established operator.

Mr Lévy said Vivendi was watching Anatel’s deliberations about a spectrum auction “extremely closely”.

But he insisted that a mobile business was not needed to make a success of GVT, which is rolling out fast internet services to Brazil’s main cities.

Mr Lévy said Vivendi had bought GVT purely on the basis of its fixed-line phone and broadband assets, and was focused on extending its services to new urban areas.

He also highlighted how Vivendi, which owns Canal+, the French pay-television operator, was considering the case for GVT also supplying television services to customers, once the relevant regulation was in place.

The European Commission has rejected a complaint lodged by Vivendi last year alleging ineffective competition in the French fixed-line phone market because of France Telecom’s strong position. Vivendi plans to appeal.

Источник: Financial Times

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