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Viv U, RTL may nab Cup rights owner ISMM

Decision could come as early as Monday

BERLIN — Vivendi Universal and the RTL Group could take over bankrupt Swiss sports rights marketer ISMM, which owns worldwide rights to the 2002 and 2006 soccer World Cup, for the symbolic price of one Swiss franc (58¢).

A decision could come as early as Monday, when a Swiss court that has been reviewing ISMM’s bankruptcy proceedings will decide the company’s fate.

The takeover would mean a multimillion-dollar investment by Vivendi in ISMM, which reported losses of $350 million last year.

For Vivendi U and RTL, the acquisition would preempt an effort by German media giant Kirch, which already controls European rights to the 2002 and ’06 World Cup games and has an option to acquire worldwide rights if ISMM goes bankrupt. Vivendi U and RTL are looking at pooling their sports rights into a joint venture that would include ISMM.

Messier said ISMM “would reinforce the joint venture” with RTL, which, he added, could be set up by this summer.

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