Although Monday’s deadline for the auction of Vivendi Universal’s US entertainment assets was taken seriously by no-one, least of all VU itself, two eleventh-hour bids were slapped on the table, respectively by John Malone’s Liberty Media and an investor consortium led by Edgar Bronfman Junior.

So reports the New York Times, whose informant is “a person close to the process”. The strategically placed mole also revealed that General Electric’s network TV arm NBC remains in the frame even though it has yet to submit a formal offer. And that Vivendi is adhering to its reserve price of $14 billion (€12.62bn; £8.83bn).

The assets in question include the USA Network, the Sci-Fi Network, Universal Pictures and Universal Television. But Vivendi is reportedly less eager to dispose of these properties than it was twelve months ago when its need for cash was desperate; it may consider alternative plans that could involve joint-venture cooperation with a third party such as cable giant Comcast [WAMN: 18-Aug-03]. NBC too is said to be interested in such a plan.

Vivendi’s board is scheduled to meet in Paris early next week to mull the offers on the table.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff