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Vivendi's Canal Plus clinches deal for Orange's film and pay-TV arm

The logo of Vivendi is seen in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) -Vivendi's Canal Plus has finalised a deal to buy the OCS film and pay-TV division of Orange, France's biggest telecoms group, the companies said on Monday without disclosing financial terms.

The deal would mark the end of Orange's venture into the movie industry and distribution of TV series, following years of losses at the division, created in 2008.

For Canal Plus' parent company, controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore, the transaction could potentially allow it to add nearly 3 million subscribers and close in on Netflix in France.

OCS was for years the sole French distributor of HBO series including "Game of Thrones". It lost the rights to broadcast the blockbuster at the end of 2022, but is still allowed to distribute the series prequel "House of Dragon", a spokesperson for Orange said.

This means HBO, a subsidiary of Warner Bros Discovery, is now allowed to seal distribution deals with other players in France.

There is usually a sort of "inertia" among pay TV subscribers before they realise they are not getting the same content as before and switch to another service, adding Canal Plus and Orange might be betting on that, an industry source said last November.

In addition to OCS, which Canal already owned a third of, the deal will see Canal Plus take over Orange Studio, a content division in charge of co-producing, selling abroad and distributing select films in France.

Orange Studio's catalogue of movies includes Oscar-winning films "The Artist" and "The Father".

Canal Plus had 9.6 million subscribers at end of June while OCS has 2.9 million. OCS is France's second-biggest pay-TV service after Canal Plus.

The companies said that employee representative bodies and the French competition watchdog would be given notification of the deal.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Mathieu Rosemain; editing by David Goodman and Jason Neely)