Vizzavi - one of the key planks on which the merger of Seagram, Vivendi and Canal Plus is built - was reportedly dealt a blow this weekend when two phone giants secured an injunction preventing the portal from operating in France.
According to British newspaper The Sunday Times, British Telecommunications and the US' SBC Communications have used their rights as minority shareholders in the Vivendi-controlled phone group Cegetel to obtain a court order protecting their interests. The injunction is expected to prevent Vizzavi from being the default browser on phones running on Cegetel's SFR mobile network - France's number two cellular operator.
Vizzavi is a joint venture between Vivendi and Vodafone Airtouch launched earlier this year and intended to be a "multi access portal" that allows users to search the internet with a common interface through a variety of different devices; desktop PC, television, mobile phone or personal organiser.
It was officially launched the day before the Vivendi Universal deal was announced and is one of the key bets on convergence that determine Vivendi's ability to extract value from a deal that many analysts are now saying looks expensive. Vivendi chief Jean-Marie Messier boasted that through Vizzavi he would soon be able to deliver entertainment from Universal and Canal Plus to some 80 million paying consumers.
It is understood that the injunction does not prevent Vizzavi from launching outside France. However, it will add to the portal bureaucratic burden. The creation of Vizzavi is currently under investigation on competition grounds by the European Commission.