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Vivendi knocks back Liberty approach for Universal acquisition

By | Published on Tuesday 10 March 2015

Universal Music

US-based Liberty Media, which already owns half of satellite radio group Sirius XM and a quarter of live music giant Live Nation, has expressed an interest in buying the Universal Music Group, according to the New York Post. The mega-major’s current owner Vivendi then expressed a strong interest in not selling the company. Especially to Liberty Media.

According to the Post, Liberty chief John Malone recently approached Vivendi Chairman Vincent BollorĂ© about the possibility of buying Universal. It’s thought that Malone, whose conglom already has interests in radio and live music, is keen on buying into the copyright side of the music business.

But Vivendi – despite having sold off various assets in recent years – seems in no mood to sell Universal, having already knocked back an offer for the music company from a Japanese firm in 2013. Indeed, the new streamlined Vivendi, with BollorĂ© as Chair, sees entertainment as its core business (it also owns telly and movie company Canal+ and has some interests in ticketing), and the French firm itself is thought to be seeking acquisitions in this domain.

Therefore Malone’s approach was always optimistic, not least because Liberty and Vivendi have something of a frosty relationship stemming from a ten-year legal battle. Though it’s nice for Universal to know that, even as the record industry continues to grapple with the challenges of digital, there are still people out there who’d like to own it.