'All or nothing', Vivendi tells bidders ahead of Monday deadline

MUMBAI: Bid for all or nothing! that's the message from media conglomerate Vivendi Universal.


The deadline for receiving bids is just two days away and this assertion by the heavily indebted media powerhouse appears more hopeful stance than definite fact at the moment. One banker quoted by Reuters says Vivendi would inevitably receive bids for individual units.

Vivendi Universal CFO Jacques Espinasse has been quoted as saying that the company was facing a combination of up to 36 possible offers but only a few were "interested in the whole thing". 

Whoever is willing to bid for Vivendi lock, stock and barrel though, could get it for anywhere between $ 12 to 18 billion, depending on how many make a bid for the whole package (at this point in time whether there is even one is debatable though). The package on offer includes Hollywood's Universal Studios, cable television channels USA and Sci Fi, and the Universal theme parks. The video games division, Vivendi Universal Games, remains somewhat in flux. While not part of the VUE sale, now, it could be included if a buyer pays the right price. 

The assets are reportedly being eyed by six bidders, which include US media major Viacom, Hollywood studio MGM, NBC's parent company General Electric, former Universal Group owners the Bronfman family, billionaire oil magnate Marvin Davis's consortium Universal Partners and John Malone's Liberty Media. The latter three are also reported to be interested in Vivendi's music business.

With the music industry in a tailspin, Vivendi has not insisted that music be part of the sale but it would be reasonable to assume that that interest in music will work to their advantage in bidding. 

Vivendi Universal's net debt at the end of May was estimated at around  14 billion ($16.5 billion), compared with  15.3 billion ($18.09 billion) at the end of March.

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