The long-running dispute over whether Vivendi hoodwinked Liberty Media in 2002, when the French company bought Liberty’s 21% stake in USA Networks, is finally over: Vivendi paid Liberty $775 million to settle the court case, John Malone’s company announced today.
Liberty Media says it will net about $420 million after it pays its lawyers, taxes, and turns part of the proceeds over to a former subsidiary, LibertyGlobal.
Liberty CEO Greg Maffei told analysts today that the agreement was “a mere 13 years in the making.”
At issue was whether former Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier hid his company’s growing debt and limited cash before it made the $10.3 billion transaction to buy USA, then controlled by Barry Diller. A few months after Liberty received 37.6 million Vivendi shares the company dumped Messier as the extent of its financial problems became apparent.
A New York jury at the U.S. District Court sided with Liberty in 2012, and awarded it more than $956 million. But both companies appealed.
Law firms Baker Botts and WilmerHale represented Liberty.