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VIZZAVI NOTHING

Vivendi, Vodafone and Canal Plus Face EU’s "Concerns," Plan For Le Merger
The European Commission has decided to postpone the deadline for a ruling on the proposed Vizzavi joint venture. The Euro-portal, intended as a cooperative Web enterprise of media-utilities megacorp Vivendi, Pay TV colossus Canal Plus and UK mobile-phone champ Vodafone, will hear the EU's findings on competition-related "concerns" on 7/20; the previous deadline was 7/10.

The rollback was motivated by Vodafone and Vivendi's offer to shrink the scope of the planned Net venture; if the companies can assuage EU anxieties, they will circumvent a nail-biting four-month review.

Commented one U.S. regulator, "What does ‘concern' mean?"

Vodafone also announced it had taken on some 6.6 million new customers in Q2, with about 572,000 of them in the UK. Such news could be a double-edged sword, as it speaks well for the phone giant's ability to handle growth but could buttress worries about the potentially monopolistic dimensions of the Web deal.

Meanwhile, it was declared on 7/5 that Canal Plus will remain a free-standing biz under the pending Vivendi Universal umbrella, with current Chairman Pierre Lescure remaining le fromage grande. Canal will carry on existing ventures and incorporate Universal content into its pipes; under the terms of the merger, most of the cable monster will be absorbed into the new company, but the French channel will only be minority-owned

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