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BSkyB shares dip on Vivendi/USA Networks talks

LONDON - Shares in BSkyB have taken a battering as fears grow that Vivendi Universal may seek to offload part of its 22% stake in the UK broadcaster to help pay for the possible acquisition of the entertainment arm of USA Networks.

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Yesterday, BSkyB shares fell as much as 6.8% as news emerged that Vivendi chief executive Jean Marie-Messier was in talks with the owner of the Sci-Fi Channel about acquiring its entertainment assets. This morning, BSkyB's shares were down 1.96% to 799p.

Vivendi's BSkyB stake is currently being held by Deutsche Bank, in return for a £2.6bn loan, as a condition of European regulatory approval for its acquisition of drinks giant Seagram, home to Universal Studios and Universal Music.

Under the terms of the loan, Vivendi has no voting rights, but retains financial exposure.

The news of the talks between Vivendi and USA Networks also saw the DJ Stoxx pan-European index lose 2.3% amid fears that Vivendi may overpay for USA Entertainment.

However, Messier has dismissed reports that he could end up paying between £9bn and £12bn for the division.

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