The Turnaround of Vivendi Universal

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR199
Case Length : 15 Pages
Pages Period : 1998-2005
Organization : Vivendi Universal
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : France
Industry : Media and Telecommunications

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Introduction Contd...

According to Jean-Bernard Lévy (Lévy), VU's CEO, "A significant part of our growth for the next five years will come from these intersections between new technologies and Vivendi's digital storehouse."5

Vivendi's Woes

VU originally started its business as a utility company. It was founded in 1853 as a joint stock company by the French government under the name Compagnie Générale des Eaux (CGE). The French government established the company for two purposes: to provide water to irrigate land for cultivation, and to supply drinking water to the cities of France. CGE supplied water to several cities in France. In fact, the company became so successful in its utilities business that it also began supplying water to cities outside France like Venice, Istanbul and Porto. As of 1953, the company boasted of a utility network of ten thousand kilometers, supplying drinking water to eight million people in France. The next two decades saw the company strengthen its utilities business by offering district heating services and waste disposal services.

During the 1970s, CGE also forayed into real estate promotion, construction and energy businesses. In 1980, CGE became the largest private energy group in France, when it acquired Compagnie Generale de Chauffe, a company that offered heating and air conditioning services.

During the 1980s, the company acquired companies like Omnium de Traitement et de Valorisation (OTV), a water management company, and Compagnie Générale d'Entreprise Automobiles (CGEA), a transportation and waste management company. Also in the 1980s, the company established the first ever pay television channel in France called Canal Plus in association with Agency Havas (Havas),6 a media group. CGE owned a 15% share in the new entity. Later in 1987, CGE entered the telecommunication and media business by setting up Société Française de Radiotéléphone (SFR). In 1992, CGE expanded its global operations, by offering its water and utility services to the United States (Hawaii, Miami), Australia (Sydney) and Latin America (Mexico City, Caracas)...

Excerpts >>

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5] "Vivendi's New Vitality," Business Week, September 19, 2005.

6] Agency Havas was a news and advertising agency founded in 1835 by Charles-Louis Havas. Later in 1940, the company's advertising business was nationalized by the French government. The advertising business of the company was renamed Havas Couseil in 1958. Havas Couseil was later restructured and renamed Eurocom holding company. Eurocom holding company was listed on the French stock exchange in 1982 as a Havas Media Group subsidiary.


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