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Africa is key to a winning strategy says Vivendi CEO

Africa is key to a winning strategy says Vivendi CEO

As mobile broadband networks become increasingly dominant channels for distribution of digital content around the world, increased investment in Africa has become crucial according to global entertainment company Vivendi's most senior executive

In a keynote address at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Arnaud de Puyfontaine, CEO of Vivendi says the company's rethink of what it means to be a multimedia provider includes a focus on Africa in an increasingly competitive business environment where Google, Netflix and others threaten its market share.

"Only the best will survive and that is why I say that we are now going through a quasi-Darwinian stage of the life of the industry. We are investing in Africa. When I joined the company we had 1.4 million subscribers to our pay TV offer under the brand of Canal plus. Consumers were paying an average of seventy euros per month, this is in French-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa. Two and a half years after, we have 2.8 million subscribers. We have correlation with the growth of the middle-class population and quality entrainment that we provide will make us a winner. If you do the right business you will become a winner."

de Puyfontaine adds that continuous investment in the development of talent on the continent will also put Vivendi in good stead for future growth.

Vivendi talent and products around the world include artists such as Rihanna, Drake and Justin Beiber through Universal Music Group, thousands of movies and video content through Canal plus as well as the Gameloft video game business that Vivendi acquired in 2016.

"We spot the best talent for the music, we spot the directors for our films. We are surrounded by talent and we create long-term value. I think we are competing with people we really admire but we are doing the right things to be part of the winners. I know that Vivendi is very well positioned and I am confident in our capacity to create a winner with our company."

Converging business environment

de Puyfontaine says Vivendi had long anticipated the convergence of media and telecommunications companies globally and has managed to prepare itself for a situation where the lines between the two business areas continue to blur.

"convergence is now a reality but unlike the majority of companies who are seeking vertical convergence between telecoms and media, we have chosen to opt for more horizontal convergence. In our experience, the distinctive customer experience propositions in telecommunications and media companies are such that they do not always fit well together in the same company. We work with a number of partners that include telecom operators, Internet service providers, device manufacturers and so on for them to enable our content to be distributed. This is the approach that will be taken by our new Chief Convergence Officer Amos Genish who will supervise the Vivendi Group's convergence strategy."

de Puyfontaine says Vivendi's approach is "resolutely telco-friendly' although the company does no longer own any telecommunications subsidiaries.

"In order to make gains both in terms such of scale and agility, Vivendi aims to be a preferred partner of telco operators. There is clearly a benefit to working together in media and telecoms. Operators can no longer be content with just offering basic series to their customers. They need innovative content to enrich their offers and to differentiate themselves. On the other hand, media companies need telcos to distribute their content to very substantial subscriber bases. This cross-collaboration is a win-win strategy."

Vivendi has entered into agreements with telcos in many of their markets including Italy and France. The company is looking for more partnerships in other markets, including Africa. according to de Puyfontaine.

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