C More Group (Canal+)

Investment summary

Fund: Fund IV
Investment theme: Strategic re-positioning
Investment date: October 2003
Exit date: April 2005


Business description

C More Group (Canal+) is the leading premium pay-TV operator in the Nordic region. The company offers pay-TV (film, series, sport) and interactive services under the brands Canal+ and C Sports. Canal+ is broadcasted digitally via satellite, cable as well as digital terrestrial television.


Background

Canal+ was sold by Vivendi Universal in a forced process, since Vivendi needed to realise cash to service debt. The timing of the sale was poor for Vivendi because the company's recent trading history had been unstable, and the Premier League, being the single most important right, was due for renewal within six months, thereby providing significant uncertainty for a buyer of the business.


Investment rationale

Nordic Capital saw the emergence of digital television as a major force that would reshape the television markets in the Nordic region. Canal+ Nordic, being a platform-agnostic provider of subscription-based television, was ideally positioned to be attractive for several different kinds of industrial players within a three to five year time horizon.

Canal+ consisted of three channels that subscribers signed up for. Canal+ competitive strength was based on having secured the most attractive rights within both sports and Hollywood movies, as well as being market leader with a 60-70% market share, thereby making it possible to outbid rival television channels for key rights. Canal+ enjoys a larger base to distribute costs over, and was therefore likely to maintain long-term competitiveness.

Nordic Capital's analysis showed a company with a high potential, which would attract high interest from strategic buyers following a turn-around. Nordic Capital teamed up with New York based Baker Capital to reduce competition in the process.


Value added

Nordic Capital ensured that a new, strong management team was put in place following the acquisition. Management was assisted by the Nordic Capital team to make bid analysis for the Premier League auction, in developing the new channel format for the re-launch, in developing the business plan for new services, as well as positioning the company for the sales process.


Exit

In March 2005, Canal+ was acquired by SBS, a pan-European broadcasting group with a strong Nordic presence. The exit was made through a limited auction to industrial players.

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