As expected, Vivendi Universal's StudioCanal is to take over Expand, the television production powerhouse born in February 2000 of the merger Canal Plus' television production and distribution affiliate Ellipse Programmes and French television production group Expand.

After exercising an option on the 20.4% owned by the FinExpand financial holding in Expand, StudioCanal will hold a 52% stake in the publicly-quoted group and 59% of the voting shares.

The deal values Expand - which had a $41m (Euros312m) capitalisation at the close of the French stock market on Friday - at $7.20. This is 22% over its share price at January 29, 2001, on which the transaction was based.

Expand, a foremost specialist of 'adventure' gameshows, produces some 1800 hours of programming per year, (including high-end drama as well as documentary and animated fare) and control a library of over 5000 hours of television shows. It registered $25m in sales in 2000.