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Vivendi Universal Says SEC Now In Formal Investigation of Company

Nov 19, 2002 | The Wall Street Journal

Vivendi Universal said the Securities and Exchange Commission has changed its informal inquiry into the company into a formal investigation.

In a prepared statement Tuesday, the French conglomerate said it plans to cooperate fully with the formal probe, which will proceed in conjunction with the ongoing investigation being conducted by the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York.

The SEC and U.S. Attorney probes as well an investigation launched by the Paris public prosecutor's office are examining the accuracy and timeliness of Vivendi's financial disclosures under its former chairman, Jean-Marie Messier, who was ousted in July.

The company, parent of Universal Music Group and Universal Studios, was formed in late 2000 by the three-way merger of Vivendi SA, Seagram Co. and Canal Plus SA. Under Mr. Messier, Vivendi spent billions of dollars on more acquisitions and stock buybacks that saddled it with a huge debt load. By the time Mr. Messier left the company in early July, Vivendi was close to filing for bankruptcy.

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