Liberty Media – the holding company and investment vehicle of ubiquitous US entrepreneur John Malone – has demanded exclusive negotiating rights concerning the acquisition of Vivendi Universal’s stateside entertainment assets.

Commented an insider: “I believe Malone has the inside track; he could partner with NBC but prefers to go alone. There has been some dialogue.” But Malone is not the only Romeo wooing the juicy portfolio, which comprises Universal Studios, cable TV channels and theme parks.

Other swains include NBC, the broadcasting arm of General Electric, which is believed to have held “preliminary talks” with Liberty as to a joint bid, while at the same time lodging its own separate offer.

There are three other first-round bidders: a consortium, which includes US group Cablevision, headed by Vivendi board member Edgar J Bronfman; MGM Studios and Viacom.

Industry analysts value VUE at between $11bn-$12bn, although Vivendi’s lips are zipped about its expectations.

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