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Vivendi Says It Obtained Loan Worth $2.7 Billion

Times Staff Writer

In a bid to refinance debt, French entertainment giant Vivendi Universal said Monday that it had obtained a three-year $2.7-billion loan from a group of banks.

The loan from the banks, including BNP Paribas, Citigroup and Credit Lyonnais, is expected to replace a $1-billion emergency loan the company obtained last year when it came close to insolvency.

As part of the refinancing package, Vivendi said it would issue $1.06 billion in bonds in a private offering this year to European investors. The company also said its Universal Entertainment, which includes the Universal movie studio and theme parks, was refinancing a $1.6-billion bridge loan.

The transactions allow Vivendi to take advantage of lower interest rates while extending the maturity of existing loans that the company obtained last year during a financial crisis spawned by huge debts the former water utility amassed from a bevy of media acquisitions.

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Chief Executive Jean Rene Fourtou said the refinancing would give Vivendi greater financial flexibility to pursue his goals of raising about $7 billion from asset sales this year and reducing debt from about $16 billion to $12 billion by year’s end.

“We remain confident to return to investment grade as soon as possible,” Fourtou said.


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