Vivendi Nears Sale of US Publishing Unit

28 October 2002

Vivendi Universal has reportedly spent the weekend locked in talks with two buyout firms after receiving an attractive offer for its US publishing assets late on Friday.

A consortium led by Blackstone Group and Thomas H Lee Partners is said to have bid over $1.7 billion (€1.75bn; £1.1bn) for American group Houghton Mifflin, which Vivendi bought in June last year for $2.2bn.

Last week, the media mammoth decided to split the sale of its publishing arm, offering the US and non-US units separately – the latter won by French group Lagardère [WAMN: 23-Oct-02].

The consortium’s offer for Houghton Mifflin is around the €1.75bn mark Vivendi set as its minimum price. Although the Franco-American group has warned it will hold a new auction if it fails to find a suitable offer, it needs the cash quickly to fight mobile phone giant Vodafone for control of French telecoms company Cegetel.

No deal has yet been struck for the publishing assets, but an agreement could be reached Monday or Tuesday, the ever-anonymous ‘people close to the situation’ have revealed.

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