Orange CEO Stéphane Richard talked with BFM Business at the Mobile World Congress about Dailymotion — as a reminder, the YouTube competitor is fully owned by Orange. The French telecom company would retain a majority stake.
“We are still talking with a major American partner in particular,” Richard said. Then he dropped the name of this potential partner. “With Microsoft indeed. It doesn’t mean that we will reach an agreement but I’m confident that we will.”
In April 2013, Yahoo was about to acquire 75 percent of Dailymotion for $200 million. Yet, the French government suspended the deal as the state still owns 27 percent of Orange. “Montebourg didn’t want to let it go to the Americans,” a source told TechCrunch at the time — Arnaud Montebourg is the French Minister of Industrial Renewal.
A few weeks after that, the telecom company had to invest $40 million (€30 million) so that Dailymotion could bounce back after the failed acquisition talks.
Dailymotion opened new international offices, launched a movie renting service with Warner Bros. and even started making European acquisitions.
But its owner still wants to find a new strategic partner to boost Dailymotion’s international growth and to reduce its stake. “It would make a lot of sense for us and for Microsoft as well to come to a deal,” Richard said.
Orange doesn’t want to recreate the same situation as last year’s acquisition talks. That’s probably why Richard is very open about Dailymotion’s future. But Orange doesn’t want to keep Dailymotion under its wing in the long run. Selling a minority stake would be a safe first step.
“I’m going to tell you once again that we want to remain Dailymotion’s main stakeholder for now,” Richard said. “Dailymotion is one of France’s biggest Internet successes and I think it can still be of benefit to the innovation ecosystem in France.”
Finally, Orange is also in talks with other potential partners on the content side. In other words, the company is willing to talk with everyone right now. Now all it needs is a yes from Microsoft.