Lagardère Media Group Sues Vivendi For $2.16B Over Canal+ France Pay-TV Venture
French media group Lagardère has filed a €1.6B ($2.16B) lawsuit against media and telecom company Vivendi, according to Renault & Gonzales of LE FIGARO. The lawsuit stems from a dispute over the two companies' Canal+ France pay-TV venture. After "years of bitter negotiations" where Lagardère tried to sell the 20% share it has in Canal+ France, the group has decided to go to court. The hearing is set for March 21 in the Paris commercial court. Lagardère is asking the court to cancel an agreement that allows Vivendi access to €1.6B in cash generated by Canal+ France (LE FIGARO, 2/12). DOW JONES' Marc Daniel reported Vivendi released a statement claiming Lagardère is looking to destabilize the group. The statement said, "This is an attempt by the Lagardère Group to destabilize Vivendi and force it to buy back the former's stake in Canal+ France." Vivendi also said that it would file a countersuit for "abuse of legal process" (DOW JONES, 2/13). In London, James Boxell noted Vivendi owns 80% of the Canal+ France venture and Lagardère the remaining 20%. Lagardère had wanted to sell its stake through an IPO but has been "stymied by market conditions." It has also discussed selling the stake to Vivendi, though its rival is "already engaged in an attempt to sell some of its other assets to cut debt, and the two sides have been unable to agree on a price" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 2/13).