Business & Finance

Level 3 Communications Inc. made a $1.1 billion bid for Williams Communications Group, The Wall Street Journal reported, in what could touch off a flurry of acquisitions in the industry. Separately, Williams was said to be close to a deal for $150 million in investment from Leucadia National Corp., which would allow the Tulsa, Okla.-based fiber-optic network operator to emerge from bankruptcy. It wasn't clear how Level 3's offer might affect that transaction, the Journal said. Level 3 is based in Broomfield, Colo.

Troubled media giant Vivendi Universal will unload some of its noncore assets to help meet massive debt payments, but not in the form of a fire sale, its new chief said. Chairman Jean-René Fourtou said the company would offer majority control of its reorganized TV channel, Canal Plus, now estimated to be worth about $7 billion, as well as divisions outside France valued at about $2.5 billion. Vivendi's debt, largely resulting from heavy buying of media properties by Fourtou's predecessor, is $18.8 billion. Two weeks ago, the company secured $989 million in new credit to meet short-term expenses, and it is expected to reach a deal on another loan of up to $3 billion by the end of next month.

Energy trader Dynegy Inc. warned of a dwindling cash flow,

scrapped a $325 million bond offering, and said it was exploring options such as an independently rated joint venture after the Houston-based company's long-term debt rating was downgraded to junk status by Standard & Poor's. Dynegy shares fell $2.15 – 64 percent – to $1.23 on the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday in response. Shares in other main energy traders also declined sharply.

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