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Diller Throws Weight Around on Vivendi Unit

January 08, 2003|Richard Verrier | Times Staff Writer

Diller to Davis: Fat chance.

The squabble over Vivendi Universal turned ugly Tuesday when media mogul Barry Diller lashed out at his longtime foe, oil tycoon Marvin Davis.

Diller is co-chief executive of Vivendi's U.S. entertainment operation. Davis wants to buy the unit -- and then oust Diller.

Speaking at a Salomon Smith Barney conference in La Quinta, Diller acknowledged that one possibility is for "that fat Marvin Davis or some other more reputable player" to buy the operation. "Although if Marvin Davis buys it," he added, "it would be a sad thing for the world."

Diller concluded: "That has about as much chance" of happening as the buyer turning out to be "anybody who's serving you today" -- an apparent allusion to the waiters at the luncheon.

A Davis aide said he would "not dignify" the comments with a response. But one source said that Diller "apparently hasn't seen Mr. Davis in awhile. He's lost more than 130 pounds."

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