After several months of speculation, financially troubled Vivendi Universal
announced that it will sell its stake in U.S.-based Canal+ Technologies to
Thomson Multimedia for $186.4 million in cash.
The press release -- ironically titled, 'Disposal of Canal Plus Technologies
to Thomson Multimedia' -- stated that Vivendi's Canal Plus Group subsidiary will
sell its 89 percent share in the interactive-TV-middleware and applications unit
to Thomson as part of the company's attempt to shed noncore assets and trim some
$34.4 billion in debt.
Thomson -- which owns the RCA brand of consumer electronics, as well as
significant digital-production assets -- already holds a 3.2 percent stake in
the software unit. Other stakeholders include Sun Microsystems Inc., Sony Corp.
and Spanish cabler Sogecable S.A.
Vivendi and Thomson have a history of partnerships, most recently signing a
development deal in April to create digital-rights-protection strategies, as
well as broadband products and video services.
Canal+ will continue to provide its former parent with interactive TV and
services, according to the announcement.
It will also maintain its existing contracts, most notably direct-broadcast
satellite provider EchoStar Communications Corp. Thus far, Canal+ has not
deployed its software with EchoStar, nor has it announced deals with any major
Vivendi also is considering selling other U.S. noncore assets, including a 10
percent stake in EchoStar.