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VU UNLOADS TELEPIU
French Giant Sells Off Italian Pay-TV Unit For $1.4 Billion

Vivendi Universal has sold Telepiu, its Italian pay-television business, to News Corp. for $1.42 billion.

The move is seen as a way for VU to lighten its heavy debt load and give Rupert Murdoch control of the Italian pay-TV market.

As part of the deal, Vivendi and News Corp. agreed to drop litigation against each other, according to the Wall Street Journal. The paper says relations between the two companies had been tense since March when Vivendi's Canal Plus filed a $1 billion lawsuit against a News Corp. unit, alleging that the unit abetted piracy of its TV signals.

The deal is subject to many conditions and could still fall apart. It is contingent on News Corp. recruiting other investors and Telecom Italia, its partner in Stream, the News Corp. subsidiary that competes with Telepiu, to join it in the acquisition. To limit its cash outlay, News Corp. wants to take 50% of the combined Stream/Telepiu and leave the rest to the other Italian investors and Telecom Italia. Another hurdle in the way of the deal is that Vivendi and News Corp. must secure the approval of Italy's competition watchdog—something that is far from certain.

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