Further to reports last week that Rupert Murdoch is considering buying Vivendi Universal’s Italian pay-TV unit Telepiu [WAMN: 30-May-02], NewsCorp has now instigated acquisition discussions with the French media giant.

On the table is said to be around €1 billion ($0.9bn; £0.6bn): €250 million of it in cash plus the assumption of Telepiu’s €750m debt mountain.

The move marks a U-turn for Murdoch, who had agreed to sell NewsCorp’s Italian pay-TV venture Stream (co-owned with Telecom Italia) to Vivendi for merger with Telepiu.

However, Vivendi cited regulatory conditions as reasons to wriggle out of the deal which onlookers believe it could no longer afford. NewsCorp initially threatened legal action, but has now moved from selling to buying mode.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Murdoch envisages creating “another Sky” through the deal, declared one NewsCorp insider, referring to the mogul's market leading British pay-TV operation BSkyB.

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