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French minister blocks Yahoo! bid for French video website

Reuters/TF1 Television/Handout

The French government has blocked the sale of video site Dailymotion to Yahoo!, insisting that it must stay at least partly in French hands, ministers have confirmed after a report in the Wall Street Journal.

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“Yahoo! wants to devour Dailymotion,” Industrial Recovery Minister Arnaud Montebourg told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday. “We told them: no, it will be 50/50.”

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But the deal fell through because of Montebourg’s inisistence that the site, which is owned by telecoms company France Télécom, remain at least partly “Made in France” – his favourite slogan – according to the Wall Street Journal.

The government has a 27 per cent stake in France Télécom.

Social Economy Minister Benoît Hamon defended his colleague on Thursday, telling France Inter radio that the state “has the right to say what is in the general interest”.

Yahoo!’s interest in the site was proof that France is not suffering an “economic apocalypse which foreign investors will never come back to”, he said.

Yahoo! proposed buying 75 per cent of Dailymotion’s capital with an option of 100 per cent.

France Télécom boss, Stéphane Richard, on Thursday claimed that the decision to reject the US company’s bid was his own, insisting that the company is independent of the French government.

Dailymotion, a minor competitor to Google’s YouTube, employs about 150 people, 120 of them in France.

It claims that 2.5 million videos are viewed per month and is the 31st most visited website, according to the comScore institute.

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