Vivendi is considering an option to split its entertainment properties from its troubled telecommunications business, according to an executive who had been briefed on the matter.
Under the proposed plan, Vivendi would separate its subsidiaries video games publisher Activision Blizzard Inc., pay TV company Canal+Group and Universal Music Group from its telecommunications companies, including French mobile company SFR, Maroc Telecom Group in Morocco and GVT in Brazil.
Should Vivendi choose to break up, the two resulting companies would be run separately, said the executive, who did not want to disclose his name because the briefing was confidential.
The possible sale was first reported by Bloomberg.
The plan is one of several options on the table as Vivendi considers how to deal with the crisis within its SFR division, whose sales made up 42% of Vivendi's total revenue in 2011. SFR revenue declined 3.1% last year as new low-cost cellphone rivals succeeded in luring away its customers and eating into the division's profits, which shrank 7.8%.
Its three entertainment companies generated $15.6 billion in revenue last year, about 43% of Vivendi's total revenue. All three businesses reported profits in 2011, with Santa Monica-based Activision leading the pack with more than $1 billion in net income on $4.8 billion in revenue. The game publisher is riding a crest of success thanks to strong sales of its "Call of Duty" shooter franchise and its new "Skylanders" adventure game for kids.
No decisions have been made, the executive said, and it is still possible the company could keep the status quo, especially if SFR is able to turn around its performance.