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A Match Made In Paris

Vivendi Universal unveiled a $10.3 billion deal with USA Networks Inc. on Monday that is designed to improve distribution of the French media giant's music and movies in the United States.

Vivendi will acquire USA Networks' entertainment assets, for $10.3 billion in cash and stocks to be put into a new company - Vivendi Universal Entertainment. The deal will give Vivendi a 93 percent stake in the new group.

USA Networks' Barry Diller will be chairman and chief executive of Vivendi Universal Entertainment, which will combine USA Networks' assets and Hollywood-based Universal Studios, a statement from Vivendi said.

Universal Studios was previously paired-up with Canal Plus Groupe, the European pay-TV group, within the Vivendi Universal organization. The new deal raises the question of Canal Plus' future status within the group.

The sale follows Vivendi's agreement Friday to invest $1.5 billion in Echostar Communications Corp.

In a statement, Vivendi said the two deals "fully address Vivendi Universal's needs in terms of integration and distribution on the US market."

Vivendi, the world's second-largest media company, hopes that Diller can expand its presence in the United States to compete with the likes of AOL Time Warner, Walt Disney Co. and Viacom.

USA Networks produces TV shows and made-for-TV movies through Studios USA. It is selling the 13 television stations it owns to Univision, the Spanish language television company.

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