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Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Vivendi sells BSkyB stake
Vivendi, the world's second largest media group, has sold its remaining 14% stake in BSkyB, in a deal worth 1.7bn.

The decision was seen by analysts as a way of reducing the French company's debts and boosting its credit standing with rating agencies.

Rating agencies Standard and Poor's and Moody's said they believed the move was positive but would not have any immediate impact on Vivendi's credit ratings, which were cut earlier this month.

The 150-year-old utilities company has been transformed into a media giant by chief executive Jean Marie Messier in a debt fuelled acquisition spree.

But Mr Messier has had a difficult time of late after Vivendi's share price plunged due to its 17bn euro debt pile.

On Tuesday the company denied French newspaper reports that it had faced a serious cash crisis at the end of 2001, which had brought it to the brink of a debt default.

"Vivendi categorically denies that the group came close to halting payments at the end of 2001," a spokesman said.

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The BBC's Oliver Woods
"Vivendi's decision is being seen as a way of reducing its debts and boosting its credit rating."
See also:

29 Apr 02 | Business
Vivendi calls for second vote
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