Vivendi Universal acknowledged yesterday it is under investigation by U.S. authorities, a disclosure that comes one week after prosecutors in France announced they were examining whether the company deliberately misled investors.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has opened a preliminary criminal investigation, Vivendi said.
The company also said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Miami office has been carrying out an informal inquiry and is co-ordinating its activities with the U.S. Attorney.
Vivendi promised to co-operate fully with investigators but an official did not return calls.
The firm has faced complaints in France and the U.S. from shareholders, who allege the company, under former chair Jean-Marie Messier, deliberately misled investors into buying or holding Vivendi’s stock.
Prosecutors in Paris opened an investigation Oct. 29 into whether the company falsified financial reports to buttress shares and attract investors.
Denying any wrongdoing, Vivendi said in September that PricewaterhouseCoopers had studied its accounts and found no misleading information.
Analyst Patrice Lambert de Diesbach suggested the new investigations in the U.S. would probably not have a major effect on Vivendi.
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