Levy out as Vivendi mulls major corporate shake-up

29 Jun 2012

Jean-Bernard Levy’s reign as chief executive of French telecoms and media conglomerate Vivendi ended following a disagreement on strategy with the group’s supervisory board yesterday, prompting speculation of pending disposals to reinvigorate Vivendi’s sagging share price. The group has seen its share price slump to a nine-year low and has been reviewing its portfolio and corporate structure to assess how best to reverse its fortunes. Adding to its woes, Vivendi’s French mobile division SFR has been particularly hard hit by the arrival of fresh competition – in the shape of Iliad’s Free Mobile – since January. Reuters quotes a person familiar with the situation, but who wished to remain anonymous as saying: ‘It’s not Jean-Bernard’s record, it’s not the situation at Vivendi, it’s not even the situation at SFR that’s the problem, it’s the future of the group.’ Other sources suggest that some Vivendi investors are pushing for a break-up of the group in order to realise the full value of some of its assets. Fuelling speculation of possible disposals, Gilles Guibout, a fund manager at AXA Investment Management in Paris, noted: ‘Jean-Bernard Levy’s departure clearly makes the divestiture scenario more probable.’

France, SFR