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French Billionaire, Vincent Bollore, Bidding $2.5bn To Buy MultiChoice

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French Billionaire, Vincent Bollore, Bidding $2.5bn To Buy MultiChoice

French Billionaire, Vincent Bollore, Bidding $2.5bn To Buy MultiChoice
February 02
05:49 2024

On Thursday, Vivendi SE’s Canal+ proposed to acquire the remaining shares of MultiChoice Group, the South African pay-TV company, in a deal valued at 46 billion rand ($2.5 billion).

The Paris-based Canal+, led by French billionaire Vincent Bollore, who already holds a significant 31.7% stake in MultiChoice, offered 105 rand per share in cash, representing a 40% premium to the company’s recent closing price.

The acquisition aligns with Vivendi’s strategy to merge Canal+’s local operations with MultiChoice, creating a conglomerate with close to 50 million subscribers.

MultiChoice, founded in South Africa in 1985, expanded across Africa in the 1990s, offering packages featuring live English football matches and local content.

As the owner of Showmax, a streaming service competing with Netflix in the region, MultiChoice has tapped into Africa’s rapidly growing entertainment market. Canal+’s bid reflects Bollore’s aim to capitalize on this trend, strengthening the new group’s position in local content and sports.

To understand Bollore’s motivations behind this acquisition, exploring his history of company acquisitions and wealth accumulation provides valuable insights into his strategic vision for MultiChoice.

 

Background
Vincent Bolloré, born in Boulogne-Billancourt, embarked on his journey as a corporate raider in France. His academic pursuits led him to the Lycée Janson-de-Sailly, and later, he earned a business degree from Université Paris X Nanterre. Bolloré initiated his career as an investment bank trainee at Edmond de Rothschild.

Beginning with the family-controlled conglomerate Bolloré, engaged in maritime freight, African trade, and paper manufacturing, he showcased his prowess in strategic investments.

This extended to media ventures, including the launch of the Direct 8 television station in 2005. Recognized for leveraging large stakes in companies, Bolloré entered power struggles, notably with companies like Bouygues and Ubisoft, yielding substantial capital gains.

In 2005, he took charge of advertising group Havas, becoming its predominant shareholder. Bolloré further diversified his media holdings with the introduction of the Direct Soir newspaper. His investment group’s penetration into Africa established him as a key player in the economies of former French colonies such as Ivory Coast, Gabon, Cameroon, and Congo.

Despite his triumphs, Bolloré faced legal challenges in 2018, experiencing custody and subsequent indictment on corruption-related charges linked to political consulting and port concessions in Togo and Guinea. His journey reflects a dynamic career marked by strategic investments, power struggles, and a significant impact on both French and African business landscapes.

Vincent Bollore’s fortune 
Vincent Bolloré, the former chairman of Bollore Group, presided over a French conglomerate and is worth $9.53 billion according to Bloomberg Index.

The group, headquartered in Puteaux, boasts diverse investments, including a substantial stake in the media and entertainment entity Vivendi and ownership of internet service provider Wifirst.

The crux of Bolloré’s wealth lies in his controlling interest in Financiere Odet, the publicly traded holding company overseeing Bollore Group.

Approximately 87% of Financiere Odet is under the billionaire’s ownership, as indicated by a comprehensive analysis of his holding structure and the 2022 annual report.

Within the media landscape, Bolloré’s family conglomerate takes the lead as the primary shareholder in Vivendi, holding a significant 29.5% stake.

Vivendi encompasses prominent entities like French pay TV leader Canal+, advertising giant Havas, publisher Prisma Media, and mobile games firm Gameloft.

Notably, Vivendi recently secured EU regulatory approval for its acquisition of French media group Lagardère, positioning itself strategically in key markets such as France, the U.K., Spain, and the U.S.

To gain antitrust approval, Vivendi made divestitures, including the sale of its publishing group Editis and Gala magazine from Prisma Media. This move enhances Vivendi’s foothold in crucial markets. The listed company anticipates reaching an annual revenue of around $18 billion (€17 billion) this year, building upon its 2022 performance.

Bolloré, currently holding 18% of Universal Music Group shares, maintains an active role in navigating the intricate landscape of investments and acquisitions, showcasing his adept leadership in the ever-evolving business terrain.

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Opeyemi

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