Orange denies ‘secret deal’ with Vivendi over Telecom Italia

Orange has denied that it has reached “a secret deal” with French media group Vivendi that would see it become the biggest shareholder in Telecom Italia.

The denial follows a report in French magazine Challenges, headlined “secret deal between Vivendi and Orange”, saying that Orange would take a stake of up to 20% in Canal Plus, Vivendi’s pay-TV company, and take over Vivendi’s 24.7% stake in Telecom Italia.

“Orange obviously discusses with all content players in a sector that is constantly evolving, but the group formally denies having reached any secret deal with Vivendi including Canal Plus and Telecom Italia,” a spokesman for Orange told Reuters in response to the report.

Challenges suggested that Orange was interested in becoming a shareholder in Canal Plus because it was facing competition from other French operators, notably Altice’s SFR, in offering video content to subscribers.

The magazine said that a deal had been discussed between Orange’s CEO, Stéphane Richard, and Vivendi’s CEO, Vincent Bolloré. “Their teams have even met recently under the pretext of a broadcasting contract renegotiation,” said the publication.

Vivendi is the biggest shareholder in Telecom Italia.

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