Vivendi always reviewing portfolio, CEO says after breakup report

Wed May 2, 2012 5:27pm EDT
 
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By Leila Abboud and Gwénaëlle Barzic

PARIS (Reuters) - Vivendi (VIV.PA: Quote) Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy said in an interview that the telecoms-to-media group was constantly reviewing ways to optimize its portfolio of assets while protecting its prized credit rating.

The group's shares have fallen 18 percent since January to reach near nine-year lows, in part because of weakness at its French mobile business, SFR, which is struggling with intense competition from new low-cost mobile player Iliad (ILD.PA: Quote).

The conglomerate discount that investors have long put on Vivendi's shares because its telecom, video games, music and pay-TV businesses have little in common has also been widening.

The situation prompted Vivendi to signal in a March 27 annual letter to shareholders that all options on asset sales or restructuring would be considered to improve the share price.

"We need to think about how to improve the valuation of our shares," Levy told Reuters on Wednesday. "It's our role to always be examining scenarios that would increase the share price."

Asked whether Vivendi was considering asset sales or an overhaul of its structure, Levy said: "My role is to give perspectives to the board on a continuous basis on our various businesses, their growth plans and risks, so we can always be asking ourselves how to optimize our assets and use our balance sheet to the benefit of shareholders, while keeping our credit rating."

He added: "I remind you that we are very attached to our BBB credit rating and would do nothing that would change it."

DIFFERENT SCENARIOS   Continued...

 
Jean-Bernard Levy, Chief Executive of Media and Telecommunication group Vivendi, speaks during the company's 2011 annual results in Paris March 1, 2012. REUTERS/Jacky Naegelen