Vivendi Universal has finalised the deal to acquire the entertainment assets of Barry Diller’s USA Networks [WAMN: 12-Dec-01], for a price of $10.3 billion in cash and securities.

The agreement hands the France-headquartered media mammoth a 93% holding in a new group titled Vivendi Universal Entertainment, which marries USA Networks’ TV and film units – including the Sci-Fi Channel, a TV production business, USA Films and Studios USA – with Vivendi’s Universal Studios Group, a collection of television, movie and theme park assets.

USA Networks also owns various online businesses, such as,, and Hotel Reservations Network – these are not part of the deal, but will form a new company called USA Interactive.

The new agreement sees Diller retain control of the USA Interactive group as chairman/ceo, while taking up the same position at Vivendi Universal Entertainment.

Regulators must still give their blessing to the deal, as must shareholders. The purchase is expected to be completed in the first quarter.

In light of the transaction, internet travel site Expedia has delayed a shareholder vote on its acquisition by USA Networks, agreed in July [WAMN: 17-Jul-01].

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