(Bloomberg) -- Vivendi SE’s Canal+ increased its bid for South Africa’s MultiChoice Group Ltd. by almost a fifth and entered exclusive talks on acquiring control of the African broadcaster.

The new all-cash offer of 125 rand per share, which values them at 55 billion rand ($2.9 billion) in total, follows push-back from MultiChoice on Canal+’s earlier offer of 105 rand. MultiChoice shares have risen 52% since the bid was first announced on Feb. 1, and climbed 4.7% on Tuesday after the announcement.

“Both companies have mutually agreed to co-operate, and MultiChoice has agreed it will give exclusivity to Canal+,” Canal+ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Maxime Saada said in an emailed response to questions. “We know the company well, and we have enough insight into the company’s value to propose this price,” he said by phone later. 

Vivendi has been buying up stock in MultiChoice, which owns the popular video-streaming service and Netflix Inc. rival Showmax. The French company is now the South African company’s largest investor, and its holding size has triggered local regulations that require it to make a takeover bid.

The French media company is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. to prepare a formal offer that due by April, said people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to comment on the matter.

MultiChoice will constitute an independent board to provide an opinion and recommendations on the new offer, according to a statement issueed on Tuesday.

MultiChoice’s second-largest investor is the Public Investment Corp, which manages the bulk of the South African government employees’ pension money. Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley are acting as MultiChoice’s financial advisers, said the people.

Representatives for JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley declined to comment. 

Formed in South Africa in 1985, MultiChoice expanded across Africa in the early 1990s with packages including live English football matches and local shows. The company was spun off from Naspers Ltd. in 2019 and offers the French broadcaster access to a continent with the world’s fastest-growing and youngest population.

Saada said the company remains firmly committed to a Johannesburg Stock Exchange listing, supporting transformation, and maintaining MultiChoice’s status on broad-based Black economic empowerment.

“The focus is now on the mandatory-offer process, where we have to comply with the guidelines and deliver the mandatory offer no later than April 8,” Saada said. 

Vivendi aims to combine its local Canal+ operations with MultiChoice creating a group with almost 50 million subscribers and the resources to invest more in local content and sports. 

--With assistance from Benoit Berthelot.

(Updates with comment from Saada in third paragraph.)

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.