Hollywood assets could go as Vivendi considers selling Universal Studios

NEW YORK - Vivendi Universal is expected to hang the for sale sign on its US entertainment assets, which include Universal Studios and Universal Music, as its new chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou seeks to cut its $30bn (£19.4bn) debt mountain.

Fourtou replaced Jean Marie-Messier, who was forced to resign amid increasing unrest among investors, unhappy with his attitude to lowering the company's debt.

This week, Fourtou has been in meetings with US executives in Paris to look at ways of getting rid of some of its debt. Although a radical move, it is thought that an exit from the US, which would effectively see the company broken in two, could be on the cards.

The US executives attending the meetings were also said to have met with Vivendi's bankers.

In a statement, Fourtou said: "Vivendi is carrying too much debt. Lowering the debt burden will require significant asset disposals. However, we do not intend to rush into any actions."

He also said he will look into securing an additional $2bn bank loan to ease the company's financial position.

The company's investors became concerned about Messier's ambitious plans for Vivendi's expansion when he spent $10bn buying USA Entertainment at the end of last year.

This followed the £34bn pound takeover of Universal Studios and Canal+, transforming the company from a French utilities company to a global media player.

Vivendi's shares have fallen 70% this year as investors became increasingly nervous about what the company would do next, and how it would lower it debt without selling some assets.

Today, however, its shares were up 11 cents or 0.74% to $15.07 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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