Vodafone buys Vizzavi stake from Vivendi

Debt-laden conglomerate Vivendi Universal SA has sold its 50 per cent share of the mobile content provider Vizzavi Ltd. to its partner Vodafone Group PLC, Vodafone announced Friday.

Vodafone, headquartered in Newbury, England, paid Vivendi 142.7 million euros (CDN$218.6 million) in cash for its share of the joint venture, set up in May 2000, the company said in a statement.

Last January, Vizzavi appointed a new chief executive, who cut about 100 jobs and revised the company’s business model. Now Vizzavi takes a slice of the airtime revenue network operators receive when users access its services, and a greater share of the revenue from premium content such as ring tones and logos. The London company was set up to offer content services over three platforms: the Internet, television and mobile phones, but its 800 employees now concentrate on delivering services to 6.3 million mobile phone, PC and PDA users.

Vodafone will continue to operate Vizzavi as the sole owner of the company. The mobile services portal is set play an “important” part in the launch of Vodafone’s new consumer service, Vodafone Live!, later this year, the company said.

As part of the deal, Vivendi will take full control of Vizzavi France, which it plans to operate through its mobile operator Soci