Viv U will water down noncore biz

Conglom to sell 15% of Veolia Environnement

PARIS — Vivendi Universal began ridding itself of more water and waste Thursday in an attempt to rake in around $2 billion.

Viv U will sell 15% of Veolia Environnement, Vivendi’s 140-year-old water and waste management core business until Jean-Marie Messier transformed the group into a media conglom.

Sale should help Viv U cut its debt to around $5.32 billion by the end of the year, an improvement on the company’s target figure of $6.65 billion.

Asset disposals over the past two years, including the sale of Universal to NBC, have raked in more than $21 billion as Viv U restructured to pay down massive debt accumulated during Messier’s tenure.

Viv U will sell its Veolia stock in three stages. On Thursday, the company placed 10% on the stock market. It will sell 2% to Veolia on Dec. 29 and the remainder to France’s Societe Generale bank later on. Viv U will keep a 5.3% stake.

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