For Vivendi Universal SA, when it rains, it pours. Just two weeks after chief executive Jean-Marie Messier ousted Pierre Lescure, the president of France's Canal Plus television company—an event that caused demonstrations in the streets of Paris and paroxysms of nationalistic fervor among France's 18 presidential candidates—a complicated stock deal got vastly more complicated, resulting in a $250 million payment due to A&M Records founders Herb Alpert and Jerry Moss.
It's sometimes amazing how courtroom adversaries can become bosom buddies. This week's example: on May 21, Vivendi Universal SA agreed to acquire Internet music portal MP3.com Inc. for $372 million (423 million euros) in cash and stock—or $5.00/share for MP3.com stockholders. The announcement followed Vivendi's April 5 acquisition of Emusic.com for $24 million. The targeted companies' boards of directors unanimously approved both deals. MP3.com will continue to offer music from non-Universal labels, according to a company press release.
Accidents and disasters have no sense of good timing, and when they strike have a way of fouling even the most promising love affairs. Case in point: loudspeaker manufacturer Von Schweikert Research and the small town of Watertown (pop. 30,000) in northern New York, about three hours' drive from Toronto.
The public auction of the assets of Wadia Digital Corporation has been postponed for at least two weeks, according to an employee of the Minneapolis law firm Siegel, Brill, Greupner, Duffy & Foster, P.A., which is handling the liquidation.
Merger mania in high-end land: Loudspeaker manufacturer Hales Design Group and digital audio manufacturer Wadia Digital Corporation are joining forces to create what the companies' executives are calling "new digital products for the new millennium." The announcement was made February 14 at Wadia headquarters in River Falls, Wisconsin.
Briefly gone but not forgotten, Wadia Digital will return as a division of Audio Video Research, Inc. (AVR) of Ann Arbor, Michigan, a new company formed in December, 2000 by combining the assets of Wadia and Digital Imaging Corporation. Wadia products, including the 861 and 831 CD players and 27ix processor, will be shown at CES in January, 2001.
Venture capital group Shared Ventures is now the legal owner of the assets of Wadia Digital Corporation. Wadia's majority shareholder, Shared Ventures, acquired the company's name, intellectual property, and physical inventory at a public auction in Minneapolis on September 12. The law firm of Siegel, Brill, Greupner, Duffy, and Foster, P/A, of Minneapolis, managed the auction. Originally scheduled for late August, the auction was postponed for two weeks after a flurry of interest following the publication of an official notice in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Warner Music Group is supporting efforts by the DVD Forum to create a hybrid dual-layer CD/DVD-audio disc, according to reports from New York the first week of December. WMG, a unit of AOL Time Warner, is one of the music industry's principal backers of the DVD-Audio format.
Audiophiles have complained since the earliest days of the compact disc that music reissued in the digital format often doesn't sound as good as it does on the original LPs. For nearly 20 years, such complaints have been dismissed by ordinary music lovers and by music-industry executives as the rantings of purists, but at least one major label is now admitting that many early CDs were not very good.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 loosened many long-established constraints on the ownership and operation of radio and television stations in the United States. The regulatory changes launched waves of mergers and acquisitions through the nation's broadcasting industry, consolidating what had been many regional companies into a few large conglomerates in just a few years. Backed by vice president Al Gore and the then chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), William Kennard, the changes were intended to make the broadcasting industry more responsive to the "free market."