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Dailymotion: Is it Microsoft’s turn?


The pride and jewel of the French tech industry, video-sharing website Dailymotion, is once again in the spotlight with Microsoft confirmed to be in talks to buy a stake, the CEO of the site's owner, Orange, confirmed Tuesday.

Despite launching the same year as Youtube in 2005 the French company's international development stagnated – Dailymotion only has a tenth of Youtube's one billion monthly unique users – and its possible acquisition by Yahoo last year sent the government into fits of protectionism.

Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

But while Yahoo was keen on acquiring a majority stake in Dailymotion, a deal with Microsoft would leave the bulk of capital in France.

In a televised interview aired on French news channel BFM on Tuesday, Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange, confirmed that the rumours circulating about a possible deal with Microsoft were true.

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"We have on-going discussions with, particularly, a big American partner," he said before confirming it was Microsoft. "It doesn't necessarily mean we will reach an agreement, but there is great hope that we will," added the CEO.

According to statistics on its website, in late 2012 Dailymotion was the 32nd most visited website in the world, attracting over 105 million unique visitors per month, 85 percent of whom were outside of France. But as it seeks to expand its reach, a partnership with Microsoft would not be the only one on the cards for Dailymotion.

Since the botched negotiations with Yahoo in early 2013, Dailymotion has already reached a number of deals to increase its visibility across the globe, including airing NFL games in some European countries.

"We are talking to other potential partners, including French ones, but more regarding content," the Orange CEO revealed on Tuesday.

Back in 2013, Yahoo and Orange had entered negotiations about a possible partnership, but the discussion soon turned sour over who would retain control of Dailymotion.

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The newly-elected socialist French government which owns a minority stake in telecommunications group Orange, blocked the move. Arnaud Montebourg, the minister for Industrial Renewal argued that Yahoo was out to "devour" Dailymotion, and said the government was in favour of a 50-50 percent split so as to not lose this "pearl of French internet."

An agreement between Dailymotion and Microsoft would make a lot of sense for both parties involved, argued Richard on Tuesday, explaining however that Orange would keep its majority stake.

"We wish to keep the majority because we want to remain the masters of Dailymotion's fate, which is a beautiful success story for French internet and that I believe can still benefit to the French innovation ecosystem."

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