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News > International
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Vivendi sells BSkyB stake
graphic December 13, 2001: 8:50 a.m. ET

French media giant expected to use funds to buy U.S. media assets
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  • Vivendi Universal website
  • USA Networks website
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    LONDON (CNN) - France's Vivendi Universal is selling a major stake in British Sky Broadcasting as it prepares to go on the acquisition trail in the U.S.

    The most likely takeover target is the entertainment assets of New York- based USA Networks, which Vivendi confirmed it was in discussion with this week.

    Vivendi, the world's fourth-biggest media company, already has a stake in USA Networks. But ownership of the entertainment assets would give it access to a huge U.S. cable-television and distribution system.

    Vivendi owns Universal Studios and Universal Music Group, as well as publishing and Internet interests. USA Networks' holdings include the Sci-Fi Network, the Home Shopping Network and Newsworld International.

    Vivendi (PEX) said on Thursday said it had asked Deutsche Bank (FDBK) and Goldman Sachs to sell 150 million of its 400 million shares in BSkyB (BSY).

    The transaction would require Deutsche Bank to convert $1.5 billion in share certificates of BskyB -- Europe's second biggest pay-TV company -- into shares. These would then be sold in October, 2002.

    Last week, Vivendi sold 9.3 percent of Vivendi Environment. With the sale of the BSkyB shares, the company said it had the necessary funding to look at media assets in the United States.

    "With this transaction, Vivendi Universal will then be in position to cover any needs that may arise from the various opportunities for strategic partnerships in the U.S. television and distribution segments," the company said Thursday in a statement.

    A Vivendi spokesman declined further comment when contacted by CNN.

    However, the company's chief executive Jean-Marie Messier said this week that the two companies were in talks about the possible purchase of USA Networks entertainment assets.

    "In any case, those discussions will not result in creation of any new Vivendi Universal shares and all contemplated scenarios under review would result only in a limited amount of cash exit for the company," Messier said Tuesday in a statement.

    "Our first priority is to take advantage of the synergies of movie/TV production and distribution."

    A spokesman would not confirm whether the talks between Vivendi and USA Networks are continuing.

    The sale of BSkyB shares was required under the terms of Vivendi's purchase last year of Seagram Co. of Canada.

    In September, Vivendi agreed to resell its 23 percent stake in BSkyB -- about 400 million shares - to Deutsche Bank in order to satisfy EU regulators. The remaining 250 million shares must be sold by 2004.

    Vivendi stocks fell 3.5 percent in Paris to graphic55.50, while BSkyB is down 6.3 percent in London at 750 pence. graphic

      RELATED SITES

    Vivendi Universal website

    USA Networks website





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    Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.

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