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Vivendi Ups the Ante

By Ronald Grover

ON THE REBOUND. The rest of the bidders are now in the position of examining how much they really want VUE, which has a library of some 1,500 films, including recent hot flicks like Bruce Almighty and 2 Fast 2 Furious, a theme park in Los Angeles, and a 50% stake in the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Fla. Bronfman, who bought what is now VUE in 1996, hopes to get back the assets he sold to Vivendi to rebuild them and recover some of the money his family lost when debt-hobbled Vivendi cratered last year. Though a spokesman, Bronfman says he definitely intends to bid again.

VUE, however, is still Malone's to lose. His Liberty Media has been hungering for a large acquisition as it continues to remake itself from a collection of assets into an operating company that would appeal to investors. VUE certainly fits the bill. With more than $5 billion in cash on Liberty's balance sheet, he could easily finance the $11.5 billion deal, if he wanted. Still, Malone isn't fond of bidding wars. A Liberty

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