SOUTH AFRICA – The French entertainment giant Canal+, which has steadily been buying shares in MultiChoice Group since 2020, has significantly increased its stake in the South African-headquartered pay-television operator to 26.26%.

From around 6% in 2020, Canal+ built its stake to 15% by September last year. It reached 18.4% in mid-June, and 20.1% in by July this year.

“MultiChoice remains committed to acting in the best interests of all shareholders and to create sustainable, long-term shareholder value,” the pay-TV operator said, repeating an earlier statement about Canal+’s share purchases.

“While the group regularly engages investors and maintains an open dialogue with the investment community, its policy is not to comment on its individual shareholders nor on its interactions with them.”

Canal+ began buying shares in MultiChoice in 2020. MultiChoice disclosed in July this year that the French company, which has pay-TV operations in francophone Africa that largely complement MultiChoice’s African footprint, had increased its stake to just over 20%.

Its previous disclosure was in November 2021, when it said the French group had bought 15.4% of its ordinary shares in issue.

Like MultiChoice, the Paris-headquartered Canal+ has a large footprint in Africa. The Canal+ Afrique pay-television offering is big in French-speaking countries in central and west Africa, with more than five million subscribers on the continent.

Canal+ previously called its stake in MultiChoice “a long-term financial investment”, but the sharp increase in its shareholding has fuelled renewed speculation that it may have more ambitious plans in store.

Canal+ and MultiChoice have teamed up on co-productions in the past, most recently an action-drama series called Spinners in South Africa.

For its part, DStv owner MultiChoice has 21.8 million active African users (of which nine million are in South Africa).

Canal+ is owned by Vivendi, which is also the owner of one of the recording giant Universal Music Group, as well as the advertising giant Havas.

Analysts previously pointed out that these co-productions share content costs and save money; a closer relationship could mean even bigger cost savings.

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