Liberty Still in Vivendi US Auction Despite $7.9bn QVC Buy

08 July 2003

Liberty Media insists it remains committed to participation in Vivendi Universal’s US asset auction despite agreeing to buy shopping channel QVC.

The US media group – investment vehicle of entrepreneur John Malone – will pay cable giant Comcast $7.9 billion (€7.0bn; £4.8bn) for the 58% stake in QVC it does not already own. It is also one of five bidders for Vivendi’s stateside entertainment portfolio, second-round offers for which are expected to start at $11.5bn [WAMN: 03-Jul-03].

The QVC deal left analysts speculating as to whether Liberty – which holds around $5.3bn in cash and marketable securities and can find an extra $10bn by selling peripheral assets – could afford both deals.

However, the omnipresent anonymous ‘source’ told the Financial Times: “Liberty has given assurances that [it] can pursue both of these transactions.”

Negotiations over QVC were triggered in March when Malone’s group ended its joint venture with Comcast. At the time, however, it was thought Liberty was eager to sell rather than buy [WAMN: 05-Mar-03]. Comcast will use the proceeds to reduce its debt burden.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff