Vivendi Universal, now flailing for survival amid its monstrous debt burden, plans to raise over €470 million ($461.57m; £297.95m) with the sale of its 50% stake in the Vizzavi wireless internet portal plus three of its major magazine publishing units.
The stake will be acquired for €142.7m by Vivendi’s equal partner in the venture Vodafone Group. But to the surprise of many, Vodafone will shortly drop the Vizzavi name despite spending up to £500m on building the brand. Instead it will integrate Vizzavi services into its Vodafone Live! operation, launching this autumn.
On the magazines front, Vivendi’s L'Express-L'Expansion, L'Etudiant and Comareg will pass to French publishing group Socpresse for around €330 million.
US-based educational publishing giant Houghton Mifflin is expected to be the next disposal [WAMN: 20-Aug-02] and Vivendi is currently in negotiation with a number of potential buyers. Few onlookers believe the French group will recoup anything near to the $1.7 billion it paid out for Mifflin last year.
Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online and MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff