French media and utility group Vivendi Universal is hoping to raise about $800 million through an initial public offering of subsidiary VU Games on the Nasdaq stock exchange, scheduled for the first half of 2003. Vivendi has already pledged to raise E12 billion over the next 18 months through various sales.
Only two months ago, Vivendi chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou had told the Wall Street Journal Europe that the games business was non-core and expendable, liable to go under the hammer as part of Vivendi’s massive debt-cutting push, but now it seems that the trouble media conglomerate has had second thoughts. VU Games had been considered an attractive proposition for the games industry’s big spenders, including Microsoft and Sega.
VU Games’ turnover is expected to reach between £472 and £535 million in 2002, and the publisher is thought to have comfortable margins. Its line-up for the next six months is very strong, and it has enjoyed critical and commercial success of late thanks to the likes of WarCraft III and The Thing, with a line of book-based Lord of the Rings titles in the offing to further that success.