Vivendi break-up: “The operation is a recognition of strategic failure, the creation of a large unified media group”

vsAs a teenager angry about his origins, Vivendi has always had an identity problem. Before 1997, the company was called Compagnie Générale des Eaux. The company’s scope and strategy have never been clear and stable. Convergence with telecommunications fizzled out in 2000, the colossal debt from the purchase of Universal in 2000 absorbed by the sale of most activities.

Also read: Article reserved for our subscribers Why Vivendi is considering its own breakup

Bosses changed one after another, trying to give coherence to a changing collection of more or less prestigious assets, and were constantly surprised that the stock market, taken aback, did not recognize these assets at their real value.

The arrival of Vincent Bolloré in 2014 and his gradual takeover through the integration of the Havas advertising group contributed to the instability. The group sold its most valuable assets, the mobile phone, video games and then Universal music.

The Breton businessman has now decided to re-energize a group whose logic has long been lost in the sand. As the stock market continues to misunderstand and devalue Vivendi, the group will break up into listed subsidiaries such as Havas, Canal+, Lagardère… As a good financier, Vincent Bolloré will extract added value from these assets, as he did with the launch Universal on the stock market in 2021. An operation that is also an acknowledgment of the strategic failure of creating a large unified media group.

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This process of listing its subsidiaries is called in English a partitionwhen the shares are distributed among the shareholders of the parent company, and the spin-off, when accompanied by a capital increase. The stock market, which is currently looking for places to grow, is celebrating will divide. Many companies that need an identity or are in a difficult transition use this to start lean.

Belgian chemist Solvay, facing a decline in chemicals in Europe in the face of rising energy prices, has discreetly split in two. The specialty chemicals activity that is on the rise with the energy transition is now called Syensqo. After its first day of trading, on Monday, December 11, its price jumped 27% in forty-eight hours. Traditional Solvay also benefited, growing by 18%.

Other operations of this type in Europe have produced similar results. A good sign for French candidates in 2024, such as Renault, which will list its electric car activities, Sodexo with its meal vouchers subsidiary Atos, or even Sanofi, which wants to give free rein to its health division. The short-term financial strategy still has a bright future ahead of it.

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