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Vivendi has recruited Jean-Yves Charlier, former chief executive of Colt Telecom and former head of BT’s European operations, to oversee its disparate group of international telecoms businesses as it ponders large-scale asset disposals or spin-offs.
The French conglomerate has also appointed Bertrand Meheut, head of Canal Plus, its French pay-TV company, to take charge of a strategic review of its media and content operations, which also include the Universal Music Group and Activision Blizzard, the games maker.
Mr Charlier, chief executive of the interactive learning company Promethean, will conduct a similar task at the company’s three telecoms businesses: SFR of France, Brazil’s GVT and Maroc Telecom.
The appointments are the latest step taken by Jean-René Fourtou, Vivendi’s chairman, as he conducts a full-scale reassessment of the company’s structure.
Some industry insiders speculated that the tasks assigned to Mr Charlier and Mr Meheut could amount to job interviews for the future role of Vivendi’s chief executive. Jean-Francois Dubos, the group’s secretary, is currently acting as chief executive following the sudden departure of Jean-Bernard Lévy at the end of June.
Vivendi has hired bankers to examine ways of raising money from assets such as Activision and GVT, while Maroc Telecom is another candidate. But it could also pursue a split of its media and telecoms businesses.
The company has been criticised by some investors who say Vivendi’s market value is far below the value of its individual assets. However, its shares have risen 12 per cent since it parted company with Mr Lévy because of a disagreement over the strategic overhaul.
Vivendi also said that Stéphane Roussel has been appointed as permanent chief executive of SFR after taking temporary charge. SFR is in a damaging domestic price war with an upstart mobile operator, Free, which forced Vivendi to slash its dividend and launch a cost-cutting programme earlier this year.