US cable entrepreneur John Malone let it be known this weekend that his unwavering eye is still fixed on the US media and entertainment assets of Vivendi Universal – despite much talk on the grapevine that he was set to withdraw from the poker table.
Said Robert Bennett, chief executive of Liberty Media – Malone’s investment vehicle: “Contrary to some public speculation, we do continue to be interested in the business and continue to be in discussions.”
And although Bennett told analysts he could not elaborate on the details of a possible Vivendi deal, it is known that Liberty has built a warchest of around $15 billion for the purpose of retail therapy.
The announcement came as another player, America’s largest cable operator Comcast abruptly quit the Vivendi table, at the same time coyly airing to the Wall Street Journal the idea of an alliance involving both groups’ cable operations [WAMN: 15-Aug-03]. Comcast’s pullout comes shortly after that of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Meantime, Vivendi insists it still seeks a cool $1.4 billion (€1.25bn; £0.88bn) for the assets – a stake none of the remaining players at the table say they are prepared to match. But, as yet there are no more empty chairs at the hottest game in medialand.
Data sourced from: MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff