Diller Turns on Vivendi with $620m Lawsuit

18 April 2003

American media mogul Barry Diller is suing his former employer, Vivendi Universal.

Diller claims the media mammoth owes his internet firm, USA Interactive, around $620 million (€568m; £393m) in a tax-related payment. The debt stems from Vivendi’s 2001 merger of the media baron’s cable channels and production studio [WAMN: 18-Dec-01] with its own US assets.

Diller took charge of the partnership resulting from this deal, known as Vivendi Universal Entertainment. He stepped down from that post last month [WAMN: 20-Mar-03].

“Vivendi's refusal to honor the clear commitment it made under the [Jean-Marie] Messier regime is a classic case of buyer’s remorse – an unjustified refusal to live up to obligations clearly and knowingly made,” blasted the USA Interactive suit.

Diller also claims that under the terms of the 2001 agreement he has the power to block Vivendi’s attempts to sell VUE assets unless he is handed a letter of credit worth around $2 billion to guarantee the value of his firm’s investment in the partnership.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff