Vivendi Hangs On to SFR -- For Now

Debt-laden Vivendi Universal, despite its desperate need for cash, plans to hang on to its 44 percent stake in telecoms operator Cegetel, which owns French mobile operator SFR.

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) has been waiting patiently in the wings to snap up the stake and give itself a strong position in the French mobile market (see Vodafone's French Fancy).

It seems, though, that Vivendi CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou wants to hang on to his prize assets and hopes to raise the €10 billion or so needed to reduce the company's debt pile by selling a variety of other concerns and drawing further funds from its banks. That's the plan, anyway. But analysts have questioned whether such an amount can be raised without flogging some of the French company's jewels, and Vodafone is such a keen and willing buyer.

So while SFR might be out of Vodafone's reach for the time being, it seems Vivendi is keen to offload its 50 percent stake in portal Vizzavi to its JV partner for about €150 million. That partner, of course, being Vodafone.

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung
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