Vivendi Universal today (Wednesday, Sept 25) sold Canal Plus Group's 89% stake in set-top decoders company Canal Plus Technologies to French group Thomson Multimedia for Eu190m.

The cash deal is part of Vivendi Universal's Eu10bn assets disposal programme and may not be the only one announced today. It is widely expected that the Vivendi Universal board meeting will approve the cut-price sale of Italian pay-TV platform Telpiu to News Corp (See also Screendaily: Euro shares take a pounding).

Today's Financial Times is indicating a price range of Eu800m-Eu900m, compared with an indicative price of Eu1.5bn agreed by the two groups a few months ago. It says that News Corp, has signed letters of intent resolving several previous obstacles in the Telepiu transaction. News Corp will no longer pay Eu500m - as planned in the original deal - for two terrestrial channels and sports rights held by Telepiu.

News Corp is expected eventually to merge Telepiu, which is losing more than Eu135m a year, with its existing Stream operation. But in a new development it will first acquire and restructure Telepiu, while also putting the two terrestrial channels up for sale. In a second stage, it will pursue a merger with Stream, with the merged operation 20% owned by Telecom Italia.

Thomson Multimedia is already a shareholder of Canal Plus Technologies, together with Canal Plus Group, Sun Microsystems, Sony and Sogecable. It will continue to provide technology and services to CanalPlus Group and its digital TV operations, as well as to all the third-party operators.