Report: Vivendi mulling sale of PC games unit

French-American conglomerate and media giant Vivendi Universal SA is considering selling its U.S.-based video game software business as a way of decreasing its debt load, according to a report Wednesday in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal.

Though Vivendi's new chairman and chief executive officer, Jean-René Fourtou, has not formally made a decision about the future of Vivendi Universal Games, which is part of the Vivendi Universal Publishing division, Fourtou believes the unit is not a core part of its overall business and could fetch Vivendi as much as €2 billion ($1.93 billion), the report said, citing sources "familiar with the matter."

Representatives at Vivendi declined to comment on the report. The company, headquartered in Paris, is currently carrying a debt load of €19 billion.

Vivendi insiders consider Microsoft Corp., Sega Corp. and Sony Corp. to be potential buyers of Vivendi Universal Games, the report said.

Vivendi Universal Games is the world's second largest maker of games for PCs and operates the biggest free online gaming site on the Internet, according to the company's Web site.

The gaming division is made up of three game studios: Blizzard Entertainment of Irvine, California, Sierra Entertainment of Bellevue, Washington, and Universal Interactive of Universal City, California, and games include Diablo II, the Lord of the Rings (for Microsoft's Xbox) and the online game Battle.net, Vivendi said.

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