Digital+ on sale?

Franco-Canadian communications group Vivendi is said to have shown a high level of interest in buying Sogecable's satellite pay TV operator Digital+.

Sogecable's shares have risen more than four per cent over the last few days as the market has got wind of the interest. A price of EUR4 billion has been quoted, but Vivendi's management has strongly denied the reports.

Vivendi controls France's Canal+ and might have asked its advisers to study the possibility of taking a step in Sogecable through editorial group Prisa which owns Sogecable. But any movement is unlikely before the end of summer.

A few days ago, Prisa announced it had increased its shareholding in Sogecable by 121,000 shares, to more than 43% totalling. But there is speculation that Prisa is becoming tired of Sogecable's pay-TV business. Spain's biggest audiovisual company may want to get rid of it and only keep Cuatro. Cuatro is Sogecable's free-to-air national channel.

Other rumours point to Spanish telco Telefónica wishing to increase its 17% in Sogecable in order to buy Digital+.

Some weeks ago Sogecable and Telefónica agreed to exchange programming and invest together in technological developments. The first operation coming from this agreement will begin next November with the service Trio+, consisting of a package of TV, internet and telephony for Digital+'s subscribers. In exchange Digital+ will provide programming to Telefónica's DSL pay-TV operator Imagenio.

But is the platform for sale at all? With the increased shareholding, Prisa has consolidated its power in Digital+ while Telefónica and Vivendi - second and third major shareholders - maintain their participations in 17.2% and 5.4% respectively.

(Source )