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from Breakingviews:

Vivendi boosts shareholder credentials in GVT sale

By Fiona Maharg-Bravo and Neil Unmack

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own. 

Vincent Bolloré, Vivendi’s chairman, is doing right by his shareholders. The French media group says it has entered exclusive talks with Telefonica on the Spanish group’s 7.5 billion euro bid for its Brazilian business GVT. The French conglomerate spurned a lower bid from Telecom Italia. It might have squeezed a bit more from Telefonica, but has chosen the surest exit. That leaves rival bidder TI facing an uncertain future.

Vivendi says the Spanish bid is in the best interest of its shareholders. The offer is higher, with 3 billion euros more in cash and a lower execution risk than the Italian one, which was mostly in shares and required a shareholder vote. To complicate matters further, Telecom Italia’s Brazilian unit is also in play – Oi, Brazil’s biggest fixed-line company, says it is considering buying TI’s stake. Both offers included potential deals to distribute Vivendi content, which gave Telefonica a significant advantage on account of its larger, global footprint.

There were fears that Bolloré could have been tempted by a larger stake in TI, which would have somehow reversed the group’s strategy of shedding its telecom assets to focus on media and content. The Telefonica offer is still a bit muddled in that respect: it includes a stake in Telefonica Brasil, a third of which Vivendi can exchange for Telecom Italia shares - Telefonica has been a longstanding shareholder of its Italian rival. Still, at nearly 11 times this year’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, Vivendi is getting a good price.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba deal spree turns from romance to thriller

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba’s investment story has turned from romance to thriller. Its Hong Kong movie-making affiliate has uncovered “possibly non-compliant” accounting just four months after the Chinese e-commerce giant bought a 60 percent stake. It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s controls were flawed – but it certainly raises questions about the value of the company’s recent investment binge.

from Breakingviews:

Gannett split puts digital on wrong side of divide

By Jeffrey Goldfarb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Gannett is redefining the digital divide. The media conglomerate unveiled plans on Tuesday to spin off newspapers, including USA Today, to showcase the value of its broadcasting operations. At the same time, the company will take control of the parent of Cars.com, paying $1.8 billion for the 73 percent it doesn’t already own. Instead of using that online asset to buffer the weaker half, however, Gannett is forcing print to stand on its own.

from Counterparties:

MORNING BID – Once Upon a Dream

Disney is expected to report third-quarter results after market close and is likely to beat average analyst estimates, according to StarMine. The media company's results could get a boost from "Maleficent", its revisionist take on "Sleeping Beauty" featuring Angelina Jolie, but the company’s prowess doesn’t end there, not with “Captain America: Winter Soldier” also a box-office champ in 2014 – which was also released during its most recent reporting period.

The studio budget for Maleficent was said to be somewhere around $180 million, so it’s not as if this was a cheap one, but consider that it posted worldwide grosses of $727 million, ranking it third for 2014, with the fourth-place film being Captain America (which cost $170 million), and also came through through Disney’s Buena Vista studios, per BoxOfficeMojo data.

from Breakingviews:

French T-Mo bid looks like peak TMT Entrepreneur

Quentin Webb

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

TMT-men are the superheroes of finance today. A market boom has let telecoms, media and technology dealmakers such as John Malone of Liberty Global and Masayoshi Son of SoftBank finance ever-bigger dreams. Xavier Niel, the billionaire behind French telecoms group Iliad, is now bidding $15 billion in cash for 56.6 percent of T-Mobile US, listed but two-thirds owned by Deutsche Telekom. Maybe this idea should have stayed in the lab.

from Breakingviews:

StanChart at risk of “doing an HSBC” – badly

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Standard Chartered STAN.L is doing a passable impression of HSBC circa 2010. The UK-based emerging markets bank has told investors that it does not accept “media rumours” concerning the future of Chairman John Peace and Chief Executive Peter Sands. The parallels with HSBC’s succession planning four years ago – a crisis that culminated in the dual departures of chairman and CEO amid a boardroom power struggle – are worrying.

from Breakingviews:

Internet ads add up for China’s party mouthpiece

By Katrina Hamlin

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Xinhuanet is an investment rarity: an online media group that is both fast-growing and profitable.  Booming advertising revenue is propelling the digital arm of China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua towards an initial public offering that could value it at close to $1 billion. Its success doesn’t depend on headlines or scoops, but on being the Communist Pary’s main mouthpiece.

from Breakingviews:

AT&T puts shareholders on hold for DirecTV

By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

AT&T is putting its shareholders on hold to buy DirecTV. Its $67 billion acquisition of the satellite TV operator announced on Sunday brings with it an unexpectedly robust $1.6 billion of cost savings. Even so, these don’t quite cover the cost of the premium. In any case, AT&T says it will use the money to roll out rural broadband service. Customers and regulators are getting the first call.

from Breakingviews:

Now Dan Loeb, Sotheby’s director, has work cut out

By Richard Beales
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Dan Loeb now has to help Sotheby’s catch Christie’s – not just blast its failure to do so. Christie’s on Tuesday threw down the gauntlet with a record $745 million contemporary art sale in New York. It’s one area of the business where Loeb has criticized Sotheby’s, which holds its rival auction on Wednesday.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba triangular dealmaking adds to IPO quirks

By John Foley
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Powerful insiders are the norm in internet companies. Alibaba’s tie-up with a digital TV company adds an extra twist. The Chinese e-commerce group, which is planning a U.S. listing, has signed a three-step deal with China’s Wasu Media that looks a little too clever for comfort.

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