Vivendi, Seagram Merger Confirmed
PARIS (AP) _ The chairman of French utilities and media conglomerate Vivendi SA on Tuesday confirmed plans for a $33 billion merger with Canadian drinks and entertainment giant Seagram Co. and Vivendi’s own pay-television unit, Canal Plus.
The merger, which had been expected, will combine Seagram’s film production and music interests with Vivendi’s European cable TV, satellite and Internet distribution systems to create a new group to be called Vivendi Universal that will be based in Paris.
Jean-Marie Messier told France’s Europe-1 radio that the new group would have annual revenues of more than $100 billion and no debt. He confirmed plans to sell off Seagram’s $7 billion to $8 billion drinks business.
The markets have not reacted well to the proposed merger. Vivendi’s stock has slipped since last week when news of the impending fusion emerged, but Messier brushed off the reaction as simply ``speculators playing with stock.″
The three companies were to officially announce the merger later Tuesday morning.
Both Vivendi and Seagram have been moving to reshape themselves as media players as they move beyond their core businesses. Vivendi was focused on water treatment, electricity and construction, while Seagram specialized in liquor.
Vivendi has annual revenue of $41 billion. It changed its name from Compagnie Generale des Eaux two years ago.