The second round of bidding for Vivendi Universal Entertainment came to a
close late Monday, with Liberty Media Corp. and an investment group headed by
former Vivendi Universal vice chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr. submitting formal
General Electric Co.’s NBC television unit also continues to be in the hunt
for VUE -- the U.S. entertainment arm of Vivendi Universal, consisting of cable
channels USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, Trio and NewsWorld International, as well
as Universal Studios and Universal theme parks -- but it did not submit a formal
bid, a source familiar with Vivendi said.
According to reports, NBC chairman Robert Wright met with Vivendi chairman
Jean-Rene Fourtou last week to hammer out the details of a deal that would give
Vivendi a minority interest in a combined NBC-VUE. Even though no formal offer
was made, the source said NBC confirmed its earlier proposal.
Viacom Inc. is also interested in VUE’s cable channels, but it has said in
the past that it would not pursue a deal aggressively.
Vivendi officially began the auction for VUE in April, but it has seen a few
potential bidders drop out of the running since.
In July, Vivendi told potential bidders it had set a minimum price of $14
billion for VUE, which forced Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. to drop out of the race.
Last week, Comcast Corp. said it would not bid on VUE, but it is exploring a
joint venture with Vivendi to develop new channels and services.
The bids are expected to be put before Vivendi’s board of directors at its
regularly scheduled meeting Aug. 26.