Vivendi CEO says GVT buyout followed rules: report

The purchase of Brazilian telecom carrier GVT (GVTT3.SA) met all legal and regulatory standards in the South American country, Vivendi (VIV.PA) chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy told Brazilian newspaper Valor Economico in an interview published on Thursday.

The $4.2 billion transaction is under mounting scrutiny by regulatory authorities in Brazil and minority investors who say Vivendi failed to provide sufficient information regarding its purchase of rights to call options on GVT shares.

The deal gave Vivendi majority control of the Brazilian company, trumping a rival bid by Spain's Telefonica (TEF.MC).

Levy was quoted by Valor as saying the French company was "completely transparent" with Brazil's securities regulator, which the paper said questioned why Vivendi has yet to settle those irrevocable options.

"We provided the (securities regulatory agency) CVM with all the information it required from us," Levy said.

But the regulator said Vivendi repeatedly missed deadlines to explain the nature of the transactions.

"Research conducted by the CVM questions the capacity of Vivendi's counterparties to honor the options contracts described in the (previous) filing," the regulator said on Monday.

The deal is a "win-win situation" for minority shareholders, who benefited from a 33 percent premium over Vivendi's original offer for GVT, and for consumers who want more products in the local telecoms market, Levy told Valor.

Currently Vivendi has 50.9 percent of GVT's stock and can still exercise options to add another 12 percent stake. The company is obliged by Brazilian law to launch a tender offer to buy all the remaining GVT shares from minority shareholders.

Levy played down concerns that Telefonica could challenge the GVT deal in courts, Valor said. "We don't believe they will go through with it," Levy told Valor. "We were well advised."

One source close to the situation told Reuters on December 1 that Telefonica was gauging its legal and market options regarding Vivendi's GVT purchase.

[Source: Reuters, Sao Paulo, 03Dec09]

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