Canal+, the French pay-TV giant owned by Vivendi SE, has made a non-binding offer to buy MultiChoice, per reports from Bloomberg and Tech Central, four years after it first bought a 6.5% stake in Africa’s biggest pay-TV company. 

Per Bloomberg, the offer from Canal+ is 105 Rands per share, a significant markup on MultiChoice’s current share price of 79 Rands. 

Canal+ increased its focus on Africa in the past decade and has grown from just 1 million African subscribers in 2016 to 7.6 million in 2023. In July 2019, it bought ROK Studios, a prolific Nigerian film production company, from IrokoTV to increase its slate of original content offerings. 

A timeline of Vivendi’s MultiChoice stake 

Canal+ has gradually increased its stake in MultiChoice since 2020
Canal+ has gradually increased its stake in MultiChoice since 2020

Buying MultiChoice will represent a grand step in Vivendi’s African ambitions if it can get the deal over the line. With Vivendi’s history of hostile takeovers, industry watchers had predicted it would attempt the same play with MultiChoice. 

In October 2015, Vivendi spent €180 million to acquire minority stakes in two publicly traded gaming companies, Gameloft (6.2%) and Ubisoft (6.6%), eventually buying a 10% stake in each company, a TechCabal report from 2020 said. 

It also made a hostile takeover of Gameloft by buying over 30% of the company before convincing other shareholders to sell their stakes. In June 2016, Gameloft became a Vivendi subsidiary.

Since 2020, Canal+ has increased its stake in MultiChoice from 20.1% to around 32.6%. In 2022, Vivendi received $40m in dividends from Multichoice Group (up from $23.3m in 2021).

Under South African law, Canal+ must make a mandatory takeover offer when its shareholding reaches 35%. But a complete takeover of MultiChoice may be impossible in the near future.

Regulation pumps the brakes 

By law, Canal+, a foreign company, cannot have more than 20% of the voting rights on the board of directors of a South African broadcaster. MultiChoice enforces this rule through a voting rights cap.

“A full takeover of MultiChoice looks unlikely to us,” said a Bloomberg intelligence analyst in February 2023.  

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