Orange denies ‘secret deal’ with Vivendi over Telecom Italia

25 August 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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.