EC Extends Probe into European Vivendi Publishing Sale

07 July 2003

Vivendi Universal’s US asset sale may be progressing nicely, but across the Atlantic its disposals programme is not going as planned.

The media mammoth will be far from encouraged by news that the European Commission is to extend by two months its probe into the sale of Vivendi’s European publishing business. A verdict was initially due October 9, but no decision will now be made until December.

The buyer of the assets is French media and aerospace titan Lagardère, the world’s number one magazine company. The EC is worried the deal will hit competition, handing Lagardère 60% of France’s book distribution and turning the company into the globe’s fifth biggest publisher.

From the start, regulators were expected to demand the disposal of some assets before approving the purchase. But the extension of the inquiry was taken by many observers as a bad sign for the £900 million ($1.5 billion; €1.3bn) sale. Too many regulatory concessions could see the deal collapse or Lagardère seek to lower the price.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff