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Diller: Vivendi Deal in Six Months or Bust

InterActiveCorp chairman and CEO Barry Diller told an investment conference Monday that he expects a deal between IAC and Vivendi Universal S.A. to be completed within six months or not at all.

IAC owns preferred shares in Vivendi’s Vivendi Universal Entertainment unit valued at more than $2 billion.

Vivendi agreed to merge VUE -- including USA Network, Sci Fi Channel, Trio and Universal Studios -- with General Electric Co.’s NBC television unit in October in a deal valued at about $14 billion.

Diller’s preferred interest has long been a sticking point for Vivendi, but it is not thought that a failure to buy him out would scrap a deal.

At the Citigroup Smith Barney Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Phoenix Monday, Diller said he believed an agreement could be reached, but he would only accept a deal that reflects the full value of the assets.

"I think it probably happens in the next six months or not at all," Diller said. "The impetus for this is to get this done prior to the close of the other transaction [VUE/NBC], which, we presume, happens in the next six months."

Diller added that he is not currently in discussions with Vivendi on his preferred-share stake.

"We have had a very senior and very superficial discussion with the chief executive of Vivendi about our mutual desire to unwind the VUE partnership," Diller said. "What we said is very simple: We’re not anxious, we’re not really overly motivated because the securities we have are now in better hands. Those securities have improved over the last year, and we’re quite happy to keep them."

Diller added that IAC can monetize its preferred stake at any time, but he would sell only at the right price.

"We’re happy to get rid of the whole thing if we get every dollar that we believe those interests are valued at," Diller said. "If we don’t, we’ll simply say, ‘Thank you very much, not for us, we’ll live with our current transaction.’ Whether or not there are ways to be found to achieve that, we don’t know and frankly don’t much care other than the fact that we’ve told both Vivendi and GE/NBC that if we can cooperate in doing so, we’d be happy to do so."