Beggar Vivendi Decides to Be Choosy

Perhaps the "vigorous exchange" between Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac over agriculture policy put Vivendi CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou in the mood for an old-fashioned Anglo-French spat. It's tough to see why else Fourtou last week rejected Vodafone's €6.8 billion offer for Vivendi's stake in mobile-phone operator Cegetel. The sale could have eased Vivendi's crippling €19 billion debt. Just as importantly, to retain control of Cegetel Vivendi must now pre-empt Vodafone's bid for the shares held by BT and SBC, costing the cash-strapped company between €2.6 and €4 billion. Fourtou's gambit could pay off with a higher offer from Vodafone — a...

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