A New York jury awarded Liberty Media more than $956M, finding that Vivendi Universal misled John Malone’s company about the value of Vivendi shares in 2002 when it bought Liberty’s stake in USA Networks. Liberty will seek pre-judgement interest on the sum that the jury awarded with its verdict finding Vivendi guilty of breach of contract and fraud. Vivendi says that it “believes that there are many grounds for appeal and continues to believe strongly that it did nothing wrong and will continue to vigorously defend itself in any subsequent appellant proceedings.” But Liberty says that it is “confident” that the U.S. District Court jury’s decision “will stand.” Liberty charged that former Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier hid his company’s growing debt and limited cash before it made the $10.3B transaction to buy USA, then controlled by Barry Diller. Liberty received 37.6M Vivendi shares in return for its minority stake. Vivendi dumped Messier a few months after the deal closed as the extent of its financial problems became apparent. Law firm Baker Botts represented Liberty while Weil Gotshal & Manges and Cravath Swaine & Moore defended Vivendi.
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