Vivendi Universal completed its transformation from a French utility to a diversified international media and communications company last December, with the $30.2 billion purchase of Seagram and the $9 billion acquisition of the European pay television company Canal+.
Since then, the Paris-based company directed by Jean-Marie Messier has lost no time in making sure it has a finger in every entertainment and telecom pot. Vivendi struck a deal with Sony Music Entertainment and Yahoo! to sell music online through a joint venture called Duet, and acquired MP3.com for $372 million and EMusic.com for $24.6 million.
Add Canal+s 14 million cable customers and interactive TV technology, Universal Music Groups artists, Group Cegetels 12 million wireless cus- tomers and the Vizzavi Web portal joint venture with Vodafone Group, and youve got some powerful international distribution prospects.
Back at home, Cegetel is frustrated as it tries to compete with government-backed France Télécom. Frank Esser, general manager at Cegetel, says that local markets still arent open and France Télécom is stalling deregulation.