Liberty Media Awarded Nearly $1B In Vivendi Lawsuit

by , Jun 25, 2012, 11:39 PM
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U.S. media company Liberty Media has been awarded $950 million from a federal court, stemming from a lawsuit it filed in 2003 against French media company Vivendi in connection with the sale of USA Networks.

Liberty's claim was that Vivendi kept its dire financial condition secret -- as Liberty and other investors were in the process of agreeing to sell USA Network assets to Vivendi in December 2001.

The deal was for stock and cash estimated at around $10 billion. Liberty owned 21% of the company -- at the time, worth around $2 billion.

Soon afterward, Vivendi went into financial collapse, which sent its stock plummeting -- and much of the value Liberty and other investors were to gain from the stock portion of the deal. The USA Network deal closed in 2002.

Vivendi sold a majority of its U.S. entertainment assets to General Electric in 2004 -- which include USA Network, Syfy and its production studios. It retained a small share of those assets until January 2011, when GE agreed to sell Comcast Corp. a majority share of NBCUniversal.

A Vivendi company statement said: “Vivendi believes that there are many grounds for appeal and continues to believe strongly that it did nothing wrong, and will continue to vigorously defend itself in any subsequent appellant proceedings."

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