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Christmas sale: Vivendi gobbles up USA Networks unit for $10.3bn

That kind of money could buy an awful lot of turkeys...
Written by Heather McLean, Contributor

That kind of money could buy an awful lot of turkeys...

USA Networks has sold its entertainment unit to Vivendi Universal for a whopping $10.3bn and in a in a bid to refocus for a future in online retail will change its name to USA interactive. The company owns majority stakes in Expedia, match.com, and ticketmaster among others. The sale of the entertainment unit includes USA Networks' cable network - the Sci-Fi Channel - and various film production facilities. Vivendi already projects a strong European presence, but it needs to compete with pan-global players such as AOL Time Warner in the US - hence the deal with USA Networks said Rebecca Ulph, analyst at Forrester Research. Ulph said: "USA Networks provides Vivendi with cable, film and TV distribution facilities. This deal ties up with Vivendi's commercial alliance announced last week for a 10 per cent stake in US satellite distributor, EchoStar. "EchoStar is also about to merge with DirectTV, which has a huge satellite network in the US. It's all about the distribution for Vivendi." Olivier Beauvillain, analyst at Jupiter MMXI, commented on the new USA Interactive: "This doesn't change much for the interactive side as a whole. They have a wide range of profitable online companies, proven to be successful as markets and as businesses." USA Interactive includes Ticketmaster.com, Hotel Reservations Network and Match.com. In July this year USA Networks announced its intention to purchase up to 75 per cent - 37.5m shares - of online travel company, Expedia. Microsoft agreed to hand over all of its 33.7m shares to USA Networks. The deal - now in the hands of USA Interactive - is going ahead in early 2002 after shareholder approval is given.
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