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VIVENDI UNIVERSAL TO
REFINANCE DEBT
Following Major Losses, Company Works on New Loans While Considering Asset Sales
On the heels of reporting net losses of 23.3 billion euros for 2002, French media conglomerate Vivendi Universal is working on several fronts to shore up its financing and avoid a repeat of last year’s cash crunch, which brought the company to the brink of bankruptcy.

According to reports, Vivendi is close to raising up to 4 billion euros, including a 1 billion-euro bond and a new 2.5 billion-euro line of credit. Extensions of other loans and bonds are also in the works for the purpose of giving the company time to decide on asset sales.

Among assets the block are Vivendi’s video game and theme park divisions. The company is also still considering oil billionaire Marvin Davis’ $20 billion offer for all of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, which includes games, theme parks, motion pictures, television and the Universal Music Group.

Vivendi plans on raising at least 7 billion euros through asset sales this year in order to reduce its debt, which currently stands at 12.3 billion euros.

Meanwhile, EMI, which has seen its share price fall to historic lows recently, had its debt downgraded to “junk” status by Moody’s Investors Service yesterday. Moody’s cited cash-flow concerns and the troubled state of the music industry in changing EMI’s rating.

In other news, Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham apologized to owners of a memorabilia shop and agreed to pay them $88,000 to settle a slander suit after berating the couple for allegedly selling a bogus autographed photo of her soccer-star husband. At the same time, Liza Minnelli’s real estate lawyer, Robert Kaufman, has reportedly quit, saying “the attorney-client relationship has completely broken down,” over a lawsuit concerning the sale of Minnelli’s Beverly Hills home. Authorities were at a loss when asked if Beckham and Minnelli had ever been seen in at a party together.

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