Vivendi Hawks Its US Assets as Losses Mount

Article excerpt

Byline: ROSS TIEMAN

DEBT-laden media giant Vivendi Universal says it has been approached by several potential partners for its US entertainment businesses and is examining all possible options.

The urgency of those moves was underlined yesterday with the announcement of the Paris-based group's net loss of e23.3 billion (u15.9 billion) - beating France Telecom's previous record loss of e20.7 billion after one day.

Jean-Ren Fourtou, the executive chairman parachuted in to rebuild Vivendi's shattered balance sheet left by the over-ambitious Jean-Marie Messier, said: "It's not as if I'm in competition with [France Telecom chief executive] Thierry Breton."

Vivendi has lost e36.9 billion over two years. "It would be an understatement to say these are disappointing results," Fourtou said, adding that he hoped to be judged on his strategy for turning the company round.

That reputation rests on the crucial talks he is having to dispose of Vivendi's US entertainment assets. Fourtou is casting his net wide in efforts to do so.

He confirmed he has been in talks in New York with US oil billionaire Marvin Davis, who has offered $20 billion (u12.5 billion) offer for Universal Film Studios, Universal Music, Vivendi Universal Games and a handful of theme parks. …