Vivendi Retreats From Asset Auction as €3bn Credit Secured

20 September 2002

Cash-hungry media giant Vivendi Universal has secured medium-term credit of €3 billion ($2.95bn; £1.89bn).

The new financing, which replaces short-term loan facilities of €1bn, is backed by such banks as ABN Amro, Credit Lyonnais, Credit Suisse First Boston, Royal Bank of Scotland and Sumitomo Mitsui.

It may allow Vivendi to keep most of its asset portfolio intact. The group has already put a number of subsidiaries up for sale, including its book publishing businesses and Canal Plus Technologies. Its 40% stake in utilities arm Vivendi Environnement is also thought to be a long-term disposal target.

Chief executive Jean-René Fourtou plans to unveil his long-term blueprint for Vivendi next week, and is said to favour keeping the rest of the group’s units intact, not resorting to a quick sell-off of its non-French interests.

One sizeable loss burden may soon be lifted from Vivendi’s shoulders, as it nears agreement over the sale of Italian pay-TV firm Telepiu.

Executives are putting the finishing touches to the €1.28bn deal, which will see News Corporation purchase the unit and merge it with Stream, the rival operator the Murdoch empire co-owns with Telecom Italia.

Data sourced from: The Times (London); additional content by WARC staff