Vivendi Universal is in talks with the Lagardère group to sell it the publishing businesses in Europe and Latin America of Vivendi Universal Publishing (VUP).
The plan is for the Natexis-Banque Populaire to make the acquisition on behalf of Lagardère. It would then sell Lagardère the VUP assets once agreement is obtained from the antitrust authorities. The sale would be carried out on the basis of an enterprise value of E1.25 billion and include VUP’s general literature, reference and educational publishing activities, excluding Houghton Mifflin.
This project will be submitted for information and consultation with the personnel representative bodies.
To assess the amount of this disposal, it is necessary to take into account those assets that were previously included in the VUP consolidation scope, especially the professional press, Groupe L’Express-L’Expansion and Comareg, which were sold this year. Also to be taken into account are the educational software and the video game businesses, which are part of Vivendi Universal Games.
As to Houghton Mifflin, Vivendi Universal is examining the possibility of starting the disposal process again in order to be able to open it up to a higher number of potential acquirers. This may take place soon unless a significantly higher bid is received by end of business Friday October 25.
Commenting on this agreement, Jean-René Fourtou, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi Universal, said:
This agreement fully meets the three inter-linked objectives that we set when we made this difficult decision to sell our publishing businesses. Firstly, it contributes to lowering Vivendi Universal’s debt, which is an absolute prerequisite to a turnaround. Next, it meets the cultural and heritage concerns that relate to publishing, and which we have never lost sight of. This is why, from the outset, we asked all potential acquirers to make important commitments in this area. Thirdly, this agreement offers growth prospects for VUP’s French and European publishing businesses.