Tiptoeing around - Broadcasting & Cable

Tiptoeing around

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Vivendi Universal Chairman Jean-Paul Messier is angling to increase his 43% stake in USA Networks Inc. Wall Street executives said that Messier approached Liberty Media Chairman John Malone about trading his stake in USA for Vivendi's interest in U.K. DBS service BskyB. Malone said only that British regulators would frown on Liberty's owning both, along with its existing stake in U.K. cable operator Telewest. Messier noted that Diller has blocking right and that "we are not going to play in increasing our position in USA Network against [USA Chairman] Barry Diller, but only with Barry Diller." Vivendi has the right to go to a 51% USA stake in February 2002.

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