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Viacom to sell Spelling Entertainment Group

THE BALTIMORE SUN

NEW YORK -- Viacom Inc. is looking for a buyer for its majority stake in Spelling Entertainment Group Inc., producer of television hits such as "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place."

Viacom, which is seeking to shed assets and reduce debt, values Los Angeles-based Spelling at as much as $2 billion, said an investment banker familiar with Viacom's pricing strategy. Based on today's stock price, Spelling's market value is about $1.06 billion.

The investment banker said candidates to buy Spelling include Westinghouse Electric Corp., News Corp., Polygram NV, former QVC Inc. Chairman Barry Diller, Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and DreamWorks SKG. He said a number of possible buyers have contacted Viacom.

Viacom said it also plans to buy Spelling's 22 percent stake in Virgin Interactive Entertainment Ltd., a software company. Viacom owns the remaining 78 percent.

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