Vivendi Universal has finally decided the fate of its US entertainment assets and, as expected, plans to demerge them from the main group.

The units – which include Universal Studios, Universal Music and USA Networks – will be set up next year under the Universal brand. This could then be sold outright, though reports suggest a more likely scenario is a separate stock market listing and a flotation of 20% to 25%.

At present, the assets are headed by US media magnate Barry Diller under an informal structure set up last month [WAMN: 15-Nov-02]. A vocal supporter of a demerger, Diller will remain in charge at the resulting business.

“Barry dreams of a strong entertainment group around the Universal brand,” revealed Vivendi ceo Jean-René Fourtou. “This is an extraordinarily strong brand. At this moment I am of the view that it would make sense for it to be listed on the market, but I do not exclude other value creating options.”

The move also marks the latest retrenchment from the vision of Vivendi as an international media giant, as conceived by controversial ex-boss Jean-Marie Messier.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff