Malone and his top lieutenant, Greg Maffei, made the overture for the world’s biggest record company in the last few months, sources said.
The French activist investor, whose 5 percent stake in Vivendi makes him a key decision maker, showed little interest in parting ways with Universal.
Malone would likely have to cough up even more for Universal.
Malone has a history with Vivendi. Liberty won a $950 million verdict against Vivendi in 2013, after it sued the French company for allegedly inflating the value of the shares it used to purchase Liberty’s stake in USA Networks more than a decade earlier.
Malone’s bid for Universal, which sources said was informal and deemed a long shot, is just one possible path. Music publishing is another area of interest for Liberty.
Malone likely sees some overlapping benefits in combining it with his existing music holdings. Liberty owns concert promoter Live Nation and satellite-radio outfit SiriusXM.
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