March 23, 2015 / 7:58 AM / 3 years ago

U.S. hedge fund prepares challenge to Bollore's Vivendi: FT

Vincent Bollore speaks during a news conference in London March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Olivia Harris

PARIS (Reuters) - The U.S. hedge fund P Schoenfeld Asset Management is weighing a challenge to the strategy of Vincent Bollore, the powerful chairman and largest shareholder of Vivendi (VIV.PA), at the group’s upcoming shareholder meeting, wrote the Financial Times.

The fund has hired advisers in New York and Paris to plan a proxy fight after becoming disillusioned with the company’s share price and is preparing to submit resolutions urging Vivendi to take actions to improve it and pay higher dividends, the paper said, without citing its sources.

After selling three of its six businesses since mid-2013 in an overhaul to exit telecoms, Vivendi has amassed a war chest to deploy on acquisitions and rewarding shareholders.

In late February, it promised to return 5.7 billion euros ($6.15 billion) to shareholders through to 2017, pay an ordinary dividend of 1 euro per share for 2014, and keep that payout level in 2015 and 2016.

P Schoenfeld Asset Management (PSAM) “may yet decide to hold off, particularly if other shareholders emerge with similar plans”, the paper wrote.

The paper said PSAM owned about less than 1 percent of Vivendi shares.

A Vivendi spokesman said on Monday that PSAM had sent a letter to the group late last year in which it urged Vivendi to sell one of its two remaining businesses, Universal Music Group.

That business is not for sale, Vivendi has said repeatedly.

The deadline for shareholders to submit resolutions for vote at the annual meeting is midnight.

($1 = 0.9264 euros)

Reporting by Leila Abboud, editing by Louise Heavens

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