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Orange eyes Canal+

Stéphane Richard, CEO of French telco giant Orange, speaking at an event in Morocco, said that if Canal Plus was up for sale – which it isn’t – he would consider making a bid.  “If Canal Plus were up for sale tomorrow, Orange would definitely look into it. Obviously,” Richard told reporters on the fringes of a news conference in Skhirat.

Orange is Canal Plus’s main distributor and recently launched a common offer with the pay-TV group in France, targeting its broadband fibre customers. In Africa, the two groups have already partnered, notably in Ivory Coast, where they have been pre-selected in a tender for the development of a digital terrestrial television.  “There are many reasons that suggest forging closer ties,” Richard said.

Analysts at investment bank Exane-BNP/Paribas, said that did not attach a great deal of weight to the comment other than more of a “classic Orange management comment on potential M&A rather than anything else. Nonetheless this is likely to put some [share price] pressure on Orange and benefit Vivendi today.”

The bank says it sees a deal as very unlikely, not least because of France’s tight regulations on any such merger or acquisition. The bank’s report also adds that a sale of Canal+ would not fit in with Vivendi’s overall strategy.  Moreover, “There are ways for Orange and Canal to cooperate both in France, outside France (Africa) and in Content without a full deal. The level of cooperation between both groups is already increasing.”

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