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Vivendi to Spin Off US Entertainment Assets

News, 05 December 2002

Vivendi Universal has finally decided the fate of its US entertainment assets and, as expected, plans to demerge them from the main group.

The units – which include Universal Studios, Universal Music and USA Networks – will be set up next year under the Universal brand. This could then be sold outright, though reports suggest a more likely scenario is a separate stock market listing and a flotation of 20% to 25%.

At present, the assets are headed by US media magnate Barry Diller under an informal structure set up last month [WAMN: 15-Nov-02]. A vocal supporter of a demerger, Diller will remain in charge at the resulting business.

“Barry dreams of a strong entertainment group around the Universal brand,” revealed Vivendi ceo Jean-René Fourtou. “This is an extraordinarily strong brand. At this moment I am of the view that it would make sense for it to be listed on the market, but I do not exclude other value creating options.”

The move also marks the latest retrenchment from the vision of Vivendi as an international media giant, as conceived by controversial ex-boss Jean-Marie Messier.

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