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Fourtou is said to be considering keeping UMG as part of a restructured VU, which otherwise would focus on telecom assets including Cegetel and Maroc and French TV unit Canal Plus.
FOURTOU TO FOCUS VIVENDI
Chairman/CEO Tells Shareholders He’s Out on Hollywood, Undecided About Music

Vivendi Universal chief Jean-Rene Fourtou today told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting—the first over which Fourtou has presided—that Vivendi Universal Entertainment is definitely on the block.

VUE, which includes Universal Studios, theme parks and USA Networks and other cable TV assets, has been the subject of sale rumors for some time, but Reuters reports that Fourtou told investors it would be "illusory" to think it could effectively manage the L.A.-based unit from Paris.

Meanwhile, London’s Financial Times reports that VU says it has still received no offer for Universal Music Group, which is not part of VUE. Fourtou is said to be considering keeping UMG as part of a restructured VU, which otherwise would focus on telecom assets including Cegetel and Maroc and French TV unit Canal Plus.

VU continues to talk to several parties about VUE, including Liberty Media, Viacom and oilman Marvin Davis—the only one so far to make a bid that includes UMG.

According to the Financial Times, analysts place the current value of UMG at about $7.3 billion. That’s considerably higher than the $5 billion Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs has reportedly been considering offering. Further complicating any possible sale of UMG would be about $1 billion in deferred tax liability stemming from former VU chief Jean-Marie Messier’s purchase of the unit.

Sources close to the VUE negotiations say not to look for a deal until June at the earliest, according to Reuters. That means any deal for UMG, if there is to be one, would likely come after that.

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