(Oslo/Paris, 14 June 2002)
Canal+ Group and Telenor sign a definitive agreement to complete the sale of the 50% stake held by Canal+ Group in Canal Digital to Telenor.The agreements signed in July 2001 also provides for the exclusive distribution of Canal+ Group channels in Northern Europe.
Canal+ Group and Telenor Plus has settled their dispute by signing a definitive agreement regarding the sale to Telenor of Canal+ Groups 50% stake in the Nordic digital television platform Canal Digital. This agreement also secures exclusive distribution of Canal+ Nordics Premium channels and Kiosk pay-per-view service on Canal Digital in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark.
In July 2001, the two companies agreed to reorganize their relationships in the Nordic countries, with CANAL+ Group focusing on its expertise in providing superior premium programming and Telenor confirming its position in TV distribution in the Nordic area.
The final agreement provides for a total payment in cash at closing of NOK2.15 billion (290 million). This replaces the original consideration that provided for an immediate payment of NOK1.9 billion ( 257 million) and a deferred payment of NOK500 million (66 million), totaling NOK2.4 billion.
At closing, to take place within the next few days, Telenor will immediately become the sole owner of Canal Digital. The distribution agreements is currently being reviewed by the European Commission. The parties shall jointly withdraw the dispute referred to arbitration as they are now in full agreement.
Stig Eide Sivertsen, Managing Director of Telenor Plus said: "Canal Digital is an important part of Telenor Plus strategy of being able to offer Pay-TV services to the Nordic countries. Canal Digital is the fastest growing distribution company via satellite. Its has managed to offer customers first class digital and interactive TV content, including World Cup soccer. We are also pleased over reaching an agreement with Canal+ Group, and securing a continuing distribution agreement of the premium channels Canal+, Canal+ Yellow and Canal+ Blue and Kiosk, the pay-per-view service. Canal+ has the best offer with an unrivaled line-up of international and local movies and top sports events, including Premier League football and Série A Italian League.
Marc-André Feffer, Deputy Chairman, CANAL+ Group, said: I am very happy to have reached this mutually satisfactory agreement which clarifies the companies positions in the Nordic market. Canal Digital is the leading satellite distribution platform in the Nordic countries and I am confident that their skilled teams will strongly support the further development of our premium channels in the region. The efforts provided by the Canal+ teams in strengthening our programming offer resulted in a net growth of 100,000 subscribers in 2001. Our agreement will give a new impetus to the successful growth of our premium channels in the region.
Terje Tandberg, Chief Executive Officer of Canal Digital said: For us, it is positive to get a final clarification of the owner situation. But we have also lived well with two professional owners who have complemented each other and given us the opportunity to carry through our plans for growth and expansion.
About Canal Digital
The French-based European Pay-TV Canal+ Group and the Norwegian company Telenor Plus have had, since early 1997, a joint-ownership over Canal Digital, with a 50/50 share. Oslo-based Canal Digital Group is a holding company directed by Chief Executive Officer Terje Tandberg. It has subsidiaries in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, together with Multimedia Lab, the development facility for interactive services. Turnover in 2001 was NOK1,7 billion. The company has around 250 employees.
About CANAL+ Nordic
Since the CANAL+ brand was introduced in 1997 in the Nordic countries, the five Canal+ Nordic channels broadcast in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, have grown significantly at rate of +15% per annum. The number of subscriptions has more than doubled, with a +100.000 net growth in 2001 to reach a total 669.000 subscriptions. Canal+ Nordic is the leading premium channel in Nordic countries. Distributed by satellite and nearly all the cable networks, programs focus mainly on exclusive cinema and sports. Today, they include a broad range of international and Scandinavian feature movies and popular sports events such as home soccer and hockey in Sweden, English soccer (Premier League), the Italian League (Calcio) and the NHL, the North American professional hockey league.
About Canal+ Group
Canal+ Group, the European TV & Film division of Vivendi Universal, the worlds second largest media and communications group, is Europe's leading pay-TV company with 16,5 million subscriptions to its premium channels and multi-service digital TV platforms across the continent. Canal+'s premium channel format is offered in 11 European countries and is based on recent movies and exclusive sports events, family entertainment and documentaries. Canal+ launched the first European digital TV platform in France in 1996 (Canalsatellite) and developed similar bouquets of TV, radio, audio channels, as well as interactive TV services, in all the countries where the premium channel is broadcast. It is number one in Europe in digital television, with 6,3 million subscribers to its digital services at the end of 2001.
About Telenor Plus
Telenor Plus is one of four core businesses in the Telenor-group. Telenor Plus offers communication solutions within telephony, Internet and broadband, together with TV- and content services towards the private customers. Telenor Plus has around 3200 employees, and is apportioned in the divisions Broadcast, Content & Interactive Services, Telephony & Internet and Customer Service.
About Telenor ASA
Telenor is one of the biggest companies quoted on the stock exchange in Norway. By the end of 2001, the Telenor-group had 22.050 employees, and of these, 70 percent is situated in Norway. The operating revenue of 2001 amounted to 46,0 billion NOK. Telenor is the leading company in Norway within procurement of speech, information, knowledge and entertainment, and has in addition to the activities on the domestic market, a comprehensive and fast growing business in a long list of countries in Europe and Southeast Asia.