SKHIRAT, Morocco (Reuters) - France’s Orange (ORAN.PA) would consider bidding for Vivendi(VIV.PA)’s pay-TV Canal Plus if it came up for sale, Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard said on Thursday.
The former telecoms monopoly is keen on forming a closer alliance with Canal Plus, Richard added, without elaborating.
“If Canal Plus were up for sale tomorrow, Orange would definitely look into it. Obviously,” Richard told reporters on the fringes of a news conference in Skhirat, Morocco.
An alliance with Canal Plus would allow Orange to better compete against its French rival SFR Group SFRGR.PA, a subsidiary of telecoms and cable group Altice (ATCA.AS).
A spokesman for Vivendi declined to comment.
Altice said on Wednesday it had signed a strategic agreement with NBC Universal that provides exclusive distribution rights for the 13th Street and E! Entertainment TV channels.
SFR, whose media content also includes the English Premier League soccer, bets on the combination of television content and mobile telecoms to set itself apart from competitors.
Orange is Canal Plus’ first distributor and recently launched a common offer with the pay-TV group in France, targeting its broadband fibre customers.
In Africa, the two groups have already partnered, notably in Ivory Coast, where they have been pre-selected in a tender for the development of a digital terrestrial television.
“There are many reasons that suggest forging closer ties” Richard said.
Asked about talk that Vivendi’s chairman, Vincent Bollore, might be interested in acquiring a stake in Orange, Richard said this was not on the agenda.
“Mr. Bollore has never expressed an interest in becoming an Orange shareholder,” he said.
Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic; Writing by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Alexandra Hudson