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Biz Briefs

Sep 22, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Liberty Media said last week that it has completed its $7.9 billion acquisition from cable giant Comcast of the 57 percent stake in shopping channel QVC that it didn’t own. Per the terms of the sale, Liberty said, it delivered to Comcast 218 million Liberty shares valued at $11.71 per share, or a total of $2.55 billion; a three-year note worth $4 billion; and $1.35 billion in cash. Comcast said it plans to use the proceeds to continue paying down the debt.

SEC Seeks Hold on Payment to Messier

The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked a federal judge in New York to order the French conglomerate Vivendi to put in escrow a $23 million severance payment due to ousted CEO Jean-Marie Messier pending the results of its investigation into alleged violations of securities laws. A hearing on the SEC’s request is scheduled for Sept. 29. The move by the SEC comes a day after a state judge ordered Vivendi to pay Mr. Messier the severance payment in accordance with an arbitration panel ruling in his favor. Vivendi had asked the state court to issue an injunction on the payment, alleging it was improperly authorized. In addition, France’s stock market regulator last week completed its probe into the company’s financial disclosures under Mr. Messier and is concluding the company intentionally tweaked some of its numbers, according to a Wall Street Journal report. The results of the probe were turned over to Paris prosecutors, who have the sole authority to pursue a legal remedy.

AOL TW Sells Sports Teams

AOL Time Warner, continuing to trim its debt levels, said last week it will sell two of its pro sports teams to a private investment group based in Atlanta for an “economic value” of around $250 million. The Atlanta Hawks professional basketball team, the Atlanta Thrashers pro hockey team and the operating rights to the Philips Arena, the stadium in which both teams play, are being sold to the investment firm of Atlanta Spirit LLC.

Freedom Accepting Final Bids

Freedom Communications, which owns eight TV stations and 65 daily and weekly newspapers, is set to accept final bids Sept. 22 as the company enters the home stretch of a closely watched auction sparked by a feud among factions of the owning family. Independent members of the board of directors of the Irvine, Calif.-based company are slated to review the bids as well as proposals that would buy out family members interested in selling their stakes in the company, and will whittle down the list of offers to those the members deem viable. From there, the full board will consider final bids starting Oct. 1.