Canal+ and Cegetel
The November 12th bids for football rights are a nightmare for Canal+. Its operating margins and cash flow are under pressure, but failure to outbid TPS would mean a probable loss of perhaps 25% of its subscribers. This makes it likely, we think, that TPS will end up buying Canal+ from Vivendi, whoever wins the football rights, at a much lower price than the valuation of €3.5bn suggested recently by Morgan Stanley. Similarly, Vivendi may realise that it will be forced to sell the studio and the record business to Bronfman/Diller for less than current valuations. This potential devastating scenario perhaps explains why M. Fourtou is so keen to buy the rest of Cegetel, rather than selling out to Vodafone. Otherwise he would have little else left to manage. Or perhaps he is simply playing poker with Chris Gent, but running the risk that he ends up over paying. Vodafone cannot lose. It will either buy Cegetel now, or wait for it to fall into its hands when the bankers withdraw support for Vivendi.