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Vivendi Universal looks for IT buyer

The European media company is searching for a potential buyer for its IT publishing arm.

PARIS--Vivendi Universal said Friday it is seeking a buyer for its professional press arm, including its information technology publishing unit.

Vivendi said it plans to use proceeds from the sale to help fund its $2.2 billion purchase of U.S. textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin, although the company said a deal has not yet been reached.

"This (Houghton Mifflin) purchase will mostly be made possible thanks to the selling of the professional and free press belonging to Vivendi Universal publishing," Vivendi Universal said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for German media powerhouse Bertelsmann declined to comment on its interest in the property, saying only that "there are several prospective buyers."

Vivendi and Bertelsmann met a few months ago to talk about a merger between Bertelsmann Springer and Vivendi's Havas, which was renamed Vivendi Universal Publishing after Vivendi and Universal merged.

Vivendi Universal's acquisition of educational publisher Houghton Mifflin is the latest effort by the company to expand its content. In May, Vivendi Universal said it will buy online music company for about $372 million in cash and stock.

"Vivendi Universal is beginning to resemble a media conglomerate," said Susan Kevorkian, an analyst at IDC. "Vivendi now has more and more of the infrastructure in place necessary to deliver content digitally, but how soon they're going to do it is another question."

Staff writer Philippe Leroy reported from Paris; staff writer Dietmar Mueller reported from Munich;'s Gwendolyn Mariano reported from San Francisco.