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Monday, 19 August, 2002, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Vodafone could buy out net partner
Mobile phone with picture
Vodafone and Vivendi invested 1bn euros in Vizzavi
Vodafone has confirmed that it is in talks to take control of the internet portal Vizzavi.

At the moment the business is a joint venture between Vodafone and the media giant Vivendi Universal.

The telecoms group said the discussions may lead to an offer by Vodafone to acquire all or a part of Vivendi's shareholding in Vizzavi.

The company is reported to be considering paying 150m euros (95.8m; $147m) for the 50% stake.

Vodafone and Vivendi have invested more than 1bn euros in Vizzavi but the internet portal has failed to attract as many subscribers as they had hoped.

Vizzavi name to disappear

Vizzavi provides information such as news, sports updates and celebrity profiles via mobile phones as well as through PCs and interactive TV.

Vodafone saw it as a way to earn more money from new mobile phones with colour screens and high-speed internet connections.

The attraction for Vivendi was to give mobile phone users access to its films and music.

If Vodafone does take control of the joint venture it could phase out the Vizzavi brand.

Open letter

Last week Vivendi announced a loss of 12.3bn euros for the first half of the year and said it had debts of 35bn euros.

The chief executive, Jean-Rene Fourtou outlined plans to sell some of the company's assets and said it would stop investing in Vizzavi's development.

At the weekend Mr Fourtou issued an open letter to shareholders and employees, telling them he was confident in his ability to tackle the group's problems.

Vodafone's shares closed up nearly 8% at 108.75 pence.

See also:

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