November 12th saw Vivendi chairman Vincent Bolloré address Canal Plus’s staff in Paris. The meeting was reported by Reuters in French and addressed in detail by equity analysts at investment bank Exane/BNP-Paribas.
It seems Bolloré was blunt in his assessment of Canal’s current woes, not least the threats from rival broadcast groups including beIN Sport and the likes of Netflx.
Bolloré reportedly told staff that he estimates it is going to take €2 billion of incremental investment to “transform Canal”. The bank’s Charles Bedouelle says “While all of this is unlikely to be fully incremental to current spend, even assuming a fraction is incremental [it] makes a difference given that €2bn [would be the] equivalent to 3-4yr of Group Canal EBITA and way more than anyone expects, I believe”.
The strategy, suggests Bedouelle, “would basically be to keep at bay beIN and Netflix by offering significantly more content in sport & series to justify the €40 price vs c€20 for Netflix and beIN. This is the risk we highlighted in our downgrade in March and in our Netflix reports.”
The bank’s conclusion is that the market should remain “cautious” about Vivendi although Bedouelle believes that in the long run Bolloré is doing the “right thing”.