Business & Finance

Speculation grew that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. would up its $11.5 billion bid for the US entertainment assets of French media giant Vivendi Universal after the latter met a deadline Monday to supply more information on the value of those properties. The MGM offer was rejected last week as too low, but analysts told the financial reporting service Bloomberg.com that Vivendi's strategy may be to try to keep as many bidders as possible for the US properties to push up the ultimate sale price. NBC-TV and Liberty Media Co. also are suitors, and Viacom Inc. and a group of investors led by ex-Seagram Co. chief Edgar Bronfman Jr. also are rumored to be interested in the Vivendi properties: Universal Studios, theme parks, and the USA and SciFi cable-TV channels. They're on the auction block because Vivendi is trying to pay down its $15.9 billion debt.

In a deal valued at just under $1 billion, the third-largest home builder in the US, Lennar Corp., and its onetime subsidiary, LNR Property Corp., will buy Newhall Land & Farming Co., The Wall Street Journal reported. Newhall is a southern California developer and has approvals for a subdivision of more than 20,000 houses that would be Los Angeles County's largest. Newhall is based in Valencia, Calif.; Lennar in Miami; and LNR in Miami Beach.

The US unit of deeply troubled international trader SK Global Co. filed for bankruptcy. SK Global America Inc. is based in Fort Lee, N.J. Its South Korean parent's major domestic creditors agreed last week to appeal for court-appointed receivership since the discovery of accounting fraud last March revealed it had overstated 2001 profits by $1.25 billion. But foreign creditors have insisted that a bailout of the company would be preferable.

Online retailer BuyMusic.com was to offer a new Internet downloading site for personal computers Tuesday with a catalogue of more than 300,000 titles at 70 cents each or $7.95 for a full album - the cheapest to date of the available subscription services. BuyMusic will compete for market share with MusicNet, MusicNow, Rhapsody, pressplay, and Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store.

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