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Vivendi Announces Bond Sale

November 15, 2002|From Times staff and wire reports

Vivendi Universal announced plans to sell as much as $1 billion in convertible bonds, raising funds that it may use to increase its stake in France's second-largest phone company.

The bonds will be priced at 21% to 26% over the shares' current market value. The sale "strengthens [Vivendi's] capacity to potentially act in the operations taking place around [French telecom business] Cegetel," the company said in a note to the French stock market regulator.

The move comes as Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Rene Fourtou weighs whether to counter Vodafone Group's offer for Cegetel.

Vivendi is battling with Vodafone for control of Cegetel, which owns France's No. 2 wireless operator.

It has until Dec. 10 to accept Vodafone's offer for its 44% stake in Cegetel or make a bid of its own for a controlling stake.

In other developments Thursday, Vivendi Universal's online division, VU Net USA, disclosed that it would cut about 50 jobs from the division to reduce expenses and streamline operations.

The layoffs will affect employees at the division's offices in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, leaving the two groups with about 275 employees.

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