Cool Hand Vivendi in High Stakes Play for Control of USA Networks

28 March 2001

Vivendi Universal, the Paris-headquartered media and utilities group, is immersed in talks to increase its 43% stake to a controlling 63% in American cable TV company USA Networks.

The story, leaked by an analyst attending a briefing by Vivendi chairman/ceo Jean-Marie Messier on Monday, says Messier revealed his intention to swap part of Vivendi’s 22.7% holding in Britain's BSkyB (controlled by Rupert Murdoch) for Liberty Media’s 20% stake in USA Networks.

According to the voluble analyst, Messier disclosed no other details but “suggested that it [a deal] could take some time.” A Vivendi spoke was unable to confirm or deny the remarks allegedly made by Messier.

News source: Wall Street Journal