Media group Vivendi Universal will next month withdraw its representative from the board of UK satellite broadcaster BSkyB.

The move is the first step in the disposal of Vivendi Universal’s 22.7% stake in BSkyB, one of the conditions laid down by the European Commission in return for approval of Vivendi’s merger with Seagram (former owner of Universal)

The stake, worth £5 billion ($7.3bn), will not be offered on the open market. Instead, Vivendi Universal’s chief executive Jean-Marie Messier is investigating the possibility of swapping the holding for assets in other media companies. One widely touted scenario is a deal with John Malone’s Liberty Media, whereby the BSkyB holding would be exchanged for a stake in programming subsidiary USA Networks.

News source: Financial Times