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France’s Canal+ buys an even bigger stake in MultiChoice

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Groupe Canal+, the pay-television operator owned by French media conglomerate Vivendi, has again increased its stake in DStv parent MultiChoice Group, taking its shareholding to 15%.

MultiChoice disclosed in a regulatory filing on Thursday that the French company has increased its stake from 12% to almost 15.4%.

Last year, Canal+ began snapping up shares in the JSE-listed MultiChoice, prompting speculation about its intentions and fuelling a rally at the time in the DStv operator’s share price.

“As a publicly held company, MultiChoice regularly engages with its strategic partners and maintains an open dialogue with the investment community. The group’s policy is not to comment on its individual shareholders, nor on its interactions with them. The Company remains committed to acting in the best interests of all shareholders and to create sustainable long-term shareholder value,” MultiChoice said in the filing.

MultiChoice has filed a notice with the Takeover Regulation Panel about the increased shareholding.

In an interview with TechCentral in November 2020, MultiChoice Group chief financial officer Tim Jacobs said the broadcasting group would “keep an open mind” to any approach by Canal+.

‘Open mind’

MultiChoice first disclosed on 5 October 2020 that Canal+ had acquired 6.5% of its equity. Then, on 29 October, it said the French company had nearly doubled its stake to 12%.

“Whether it’s Canal+ or someone else, we have a responsibility as directors of the company to do what is in the best interests of shareholders,” Jacobs told TechCentral at the time.

“Whatever opportunity comes our way, we will try to keep an open mind. We will certainly look at it and say, ‘Is this is in the best interest of shareholders or not?’ If it is, we’d need to embrace it and make the best deal we can for shareholders.”

We have an ongoing relationship with them in various territories

He said Canal+’s stated intention was that it viewed the MultiChoice stake as a financial investment. Canal+ had done well in Francophone Africa and was bullish about the prospects for the pay-TV industry on the continent.

Jabobs said the two companies had worked together for some time, sharing content between their markets. “We have an ongoing relationship with them in various territories.” — © 2021 NewsCentral Media

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