Vivendi is the bright sun at the center of a solar system of market-leading media and telecommunications holdings. The company's telecom holdings include SFR, as well as a majority stake in fixed-line operator Neuf Cegetel. Vivendi also owns a controlling stake in Maroc Telecom, the largest telecom company in Morocco. And on the other side of the world, the company's GVT unit provides telecom and Internet service in Brazil. Vivendi's media assets include Activision Blizzard, which develops, publishes, and distributes video games, and Universal Music Group (UMG). Vivendi also owns CANAL+, the top pay-television provider in France and a leading producer and distributor of pay-TV and films.
Vivendi and UMG announced in 2011 that they would expand their music library by purchasing London-based music group EMI's recorded music division for £1.2 billion from Citigroup.
Vivendi sold its 20% stake in NBCUniversal to NBCUniversal's majority owner General Electric for $5.8 billion in 2011. General Electric pushed for the acquisition to facilitate the proposed sale of a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal to Philadelphia-based cable operator Comcast.
The deal gave Vivendi the funds it needed to take full ownership and total control of its SFR telecom division and thereby bolster its position at home against industry leader France Telecom and other rivals. The company acquired the 44% of SFR that it did not already own from UK-based Vodafone for about $11.4 billion. SFR and Vodafone are set to extend their commercial partnership for three more years as part of the deal.
In 2008 Vivendi had merged SFR and Neuf Cegetel into one company under the SFR brand; the combined entity is Europe's largest alternative telecommunications operator. Vivendi hoped that combining the two companies would result in more sales from bundled offerings of wireless, fixed-line, and Internet services to the public, corporate, and wholesale markets.
SFR has been working to meet those expectations, as well as falling into line with its parent's strategy of focusing on product innovation. The subsidiary recently launched France's first play-on-demand television platform, the Evolution neufbox, and SFR Homescope, a new offering of connected home services.
To support product development by SFR and its sister units, Vivendi has created an Innovation Division, tasked with searching for growth opportunities besides encouraging creative projects. The innovation effort complements another prong of Vivendi's strategy, business development in high-growth markets.
Following a trend of rising sales over the past few years, revenues for Vivendi rose more than 6% in 2010 over 2009.
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