Bronfman Forges Consortium for US Vivendi Auction

13 June 2003

Vivendi Universal vice-chairman Edgar Bronfman Junior has reportedly built a consortium to bid for the media mammoth’s US entertainment portfolio.

Bronfman's family offloaded many of the assets to Vivendi as part of the sale of Seagram in 2000. The businesses include Universal Music, Universal Pictures and several cable networks.

His desire to regain the units has hitherto met with scepticism from many analysts. However, sources say he has now gained support for his bid from private equity firms Blackstone Group and Thomas H Lee Partners. These join Cablevision Systems, Merrill Lynch and Wachovia Securities in the coalition [WAMN: 22-May-03]. Edgar Bronfman Senior, father of the would-be buyer, is also thought to be contributing.

The group intends to bid for around 70% of the US entertainment assets, leaving Vivendi with a minority stake through which it can avoid a hefty tax payment. Such a stake is expected to cost Bronfman around $14 billion (€12.0bn; £8.4bn). Between $3bn and $4bn has reputedly been raised already.

The consortium has met with Vivendi executives and is conducting a due-diligence probe of the assets. The media giant has told bidders that preliminary offers must be made by the end of the month.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff