(Repeats to additional subscribers)
By Ana Mano and Guillermo Parra-Bernal
SAO PAULO Jan 6 Israeli businessman Amos Genish
was vital to Vivendi SA's successful foray in Brazil a
few years ago. Now the French media company has turned to him to
create a single platform for digital, content and media
distribution services, something its rivals are struggling to
Credited for pioneering the adoption of digital services at
the helm of two Brazilian phone companies, Genish, 56, could
engage in partnerships with mobile carriers as a way to channel
Vivendi's videos, songs and games to consumers across Europe
His appointment this week as Vivendi's first chief
convergence officer comes as global media companies bet on
megadeals to increase their presence in entertainment-rich
regions like the Americas, Europe and Asia while struggling to
make efficient use of their digital capabilities and content.
Genish's ties with Spain's Telefónica SA, which he
competed against and then presided over in Brazil until
November, could prove useful for Vivendi to disseminate content
in other countries without having to acquire phone carriers,
"This will be a trump card for Vivendi in the forging of new
partnerships with global carriers," Natixis analyst Jerôme Bodin
said. "In particular, he knows Telefónica and its Latin American
businesses inside out."
Genish's new role, integrating all the content that
Vivendi's platforms produce and delivering it efficiently to
customers, exemplifies how global media companies are responding
to digital rivals such as Netflix Inc and Amazon.com
"Now it seems there is an organic strategy that aims to
create value through making the existing platform more
efficient, and not only through acquisitions," said João Moura,
head of Brazilian industry group Telcomp.
Controlled by French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, Vivendi
wants to become one of Europe's dominant media companies.
Founded as a water utility during the reign of Napoleon III, it
reshaped itself after embarking on a whirlwind of acquisitions
and asset sales in the late 1990s.
Vivendi owns France's No. 1 pay TV service Canal+, music
label Universal Music Group and YouTube competitor Dailymotion.
It also controls large stakes in Italy's Mediaset SpA
and Telecom Italia SpA.
FROM GVT TO TELEFÓNICA
Convincing carriers to channel content in different regions
might help Vivendi sidestep the threat of rival media companies
that are trying to combine their assets. Some such deals are
facing more scrutiny from regulators, consumers and politicians.
To that end, Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox Inc
struck a $14.6 billion agreement last month to buy the
61 percent of Sky Plc it does not already own. British
politicians have vowed to monitor the deal closely.
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump remains opposed to AT&T
Inc's planned $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc
, Bloomberg News said on Thursday.
Reuters reported last month that Bolloré was bidding for a
stake in Imagina, Spain's No. 1 sports broadcasting rights
company, while he also faces off with former Italian Prime
Minister Silvio Berlusconi over control of Mediaset.
Itaú BBA analyst Susana Salaru said Genish's move to Vivendi
meant a loss for Telefónica, which will miss his entrepreneurial
spirit and knowledge of an industry poised for consolidation in
A former Israeli army captain, Genish founded phone company
GVT SA in 1999 and transformed it into a fast-growing carrier.
Vivendi bought GVT after a fierce bidding war with Telefónica in
2010 and kept him as chief executive officer.
Four years later, Vivendi sold GVT to Telefónica, realizing
a capital gain of more than $4 billion, when it exited Brazil
during a dispute among shareholders, including Bolloré, over the
company's focus and soaring debt.
Following Telefónica's purchase of GVT, Genish became CEO of
local subsidiary Telefónica Brasil SA. Under him,
data surpassed voice as the main revenue source for the
company's wireless unit, the first time a local carrier achieved
Under Genish, shares of Telefónica Brasil rose about 11
percent, and he more than doubled targeted cost savings from the
He also tried to boost the company's digital services
division, whose 40 million clients use 80 applications developed
through partnerships and in-house. One of these is Studio+, a
new provider of short films for cellphone viewing.
(Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)