Messier bought the Universal assets from the Bronfman family three years ago as part of his grand plan to build a media giant to rival AOL Time Warner.


Though NBC, General Electric’s US television network, was seen as the frontrunner in the auction for Vivendi Universal Entertainment, its bid does not include an upfront cash payment, the Financial Times reported.


Vivendi ran up debts of $13 billion after former Chief Executive Jean Claude Messier went on one of the corporate world’s most extravagant acquisition sprees. The company had wanted to raise $14 billion from a sale.


Messier was ousted a year ago after shareholders became increasingly worried about the company's finances.