- It was announced today that Vivendi will buy USA
Networks Assets. It's unknown at this time how this
will effect the Sci Fi Channel or our hopes of
bringing Buck Rogers back to TV. You can also view the
below article at:
Monday December 17 1:04 PM ET
Vivendi to Buy USA Networks Assets
By ELAINE GANLEY, Associated Press Writer
PARIS (AP) - Vivendi Universal is buying the
entertainment assets of USA Networks Inc. in a $10.3
billion deal to improve distribution of the French
media giant's music and movies in the United States.
The deal announced Monday is the latest chapter in
Vivendi's remarkable transformation in just a few
years from a water utility into a global media and
Under the deal, Vivendi will combine USA Networks'
assets such as the USA and Sci-Fi cable channels and
the TV production operation responsible for ``Law and
Order'' and ``Jerry Springer, with its own
Hollywood-based Universal Studios.
Universal has a huge film catalogue and its Universal
Studios last year produced hits like ``How the Grinch
Stole Christmas'' and ``Erin Brokovich.''
For $10.3 billion in cash and stock, Vivendi will get
a 93 percent stake in a new company that will be
called Vivendi Universal Entertainment.
USA Networks' Barry Diller, the entertainment industry
veteran who ran the Paramount movie studio in the
1970s and oversaw the launch of the Fox television
network in the 1980s, will be chairman and chief
executive of Vivendi Universal Entertainment.
Vivendi, which acquired Universal from Canada's
Seagram a year ago, hopes that Diller can expand its
presence in the United States to compete with the
likes of AOL Time Warner, Walt Disney Co. and Viacom.
The deal follows Vivendi's agreement Friday to invest
$1.5 billion in EchoStar Communications Corp., the
second biggest U.S. satellite television service with
about 6 million subscribers.
In a statement, Vivendi said the two deals ``fully
address Vivendi Universal's needs in terms of
integration and distribution on the US market.''
Investors seemed to like the fit, sending Vivendi
shares up 4 percent, or $1.98, to $50.93 in early
trading Monday on the New York Stock Exchange (news -
web sites). Shares of USA Networks rose 43 cents to
$24.25 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
Universal Studios was previously paired-up with Canal
Plus Groupe, the European pay-TV group, within the
Vivendi Universal organization. The new deal raises
the question of Canal Plus' future status within the
``At the end of just one year, following our merger
with Seagram and Canal Plus, we have put the pieces
together in fulfilling our strategy,'' Vivendi
Chairman Jean-Marie Messier said in a statement. ``We
have focused on integration and addressing our
relative distribution weakness in the U.S.''
After the deal closes, Diller will retain control of
the interactive businesses currently grouped under USA
Networks, which include Ticketmaster, HSN, and
Citysearch. A deal to acquire the online travel
service Expedia is pending. The new company, over
which Diller will have full control, will be renamed
USA Interactive Inc.
Vivendi will finance the deal by selling 314 million
USA Network shares it already owns, as well as selling
32 million of its shares in exchange for part of
Liberty Media Corp.'s stake in USA Networks.
Vivendi will pay another $1.6 billion in cash and $750
million in various deferred payments, the statement
A portion of the cash financing will be provided from
proceeds of the sale two weeks ago of 9 percent of
Vivendi Environment. Vivendi also divested 8 percent
in British broadcaster BSkyB last week and is expected
to cash in $8 billion from the sale of the beverage
assets it acquired in the Seagram deal.
Liberty Media is to sell its 27 percent stake in cable
TV company Multithematiques to Vivendi Universal for
5.2 million Vivendi Universal shares. That will give
Liberty a 3.6 percent stake in Vivendi and make the
U.S. company Vivendi's biggest institutional
USA Networks produces TV shows and made-for-TV movies
through Studios USA. It is selling the 13 television
stations it owns to Univision, the Spanish language
On the Net:
Do You Yahoo!?
Check out Yahoo! Shopping and Yahoo! Auctions for all of
your unique holiday gifts! Buy at http://shopping.yahoo.com
or bid at http://auctions.yahoo.com