January 1, 2004 |
General Electric Co.'s NBC unit said a second request for information by U.S. antitrust regulators about its planned purchase of Vivendi Universal's U.S. entertainment assets was part of a normal review process. NBC was responding to an article in USA Today that said the Federal Trade Commission was concerned that the combined company might boost fees paid by cable operators to license programming.
December 24, 2003 |
Vivendi Universal will pay a $50-million fine and former Chief Executive Jean-Marie Messier will relinquish a controversial $25-million severance package to settle charges that they misled investors about the media conglomerate's financial problems. Under a settlement reached with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Messier also will pay a $1-million fine and former Chief Financial Officer Guillaume Hannezo will be required to pay a $120,000 penalty and return $148,000.
December 23, 2003 |
Vivendi Universal is in talks with the Securities and Exchange Commission in hopes of reaching a last-minute settlement in its 18-month probe into the French entertainment and telecom giant, a source familiar with the discussions said Monday. The SEC, which is investigating possible breaches of accounting law by Vivendi while Jean-Marie Messier was chief executive, obtained a court order on Sept. 24 to freeze Messier's $23-million severance payment for 90 days while it completes the probe.
December 3, 2003 |
French media and telecommunications company Vivendi Universal swung to a profit in the third quarter but warned that its end-of-year performance would not be as strong. Vivendi reported Tuesday that it earned $157 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, contrasted with a loss of $1.5 billion a year earlier. The return to profitability was because of strong performances by Vivendi's pay-TV unit Canal Plus and its Moroccan telecommunication business, the company said.
November 12, 2003 |
Vivendi Universal would buy DreamWorks SKG's recorded-music division and continue to distribute the entertainment firm's films until 2010 under new pacts announced Tuesday. Vivendi, which would pay an estimated $100 million for DreamWorks Records, plans to place the label under its Universal Music Group. The deal, the outlines of which were reported more than a week ago, signals DreamWorks' abandonment of a costly effort to build a competitive label from scratch.
November 7, 2003 |
Barry Diller, who controls Web-commerce company InterActiveCorp, said he would be "happy" to retain his $2.5-billion stake in Vivendi Universal's U.S. media unit now that General Electric Co.'s NBC unit is buying the entertainment business. Diller, during a conference call Wednesday with investors, said that although New York-based InterActiveCorp would consider selling "if we're presented with an alternative that's better for us," there have been no discussions about unloading the shares.
November 4, 2003 |
Vivendi Universal, the world's fifth-largest media company, must defend a lawsuit accusing the company and former Chief Executive Jean-Marie Messier of defrauding investors, a judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Harold Baer in Manhattan said in a 40-page opinion that investors had made enough allegations to sustain their securities fraud suit.
October 16, 2003 |
In the latest indication of the music industry's blues, Vivendi Universal today will unveil a restructuring plan that would slash $200 million in annual costs by shrinking operations across 71 countries worldwide. The reorganization relies heavily on job cuts and a more cost-conscious approach aimed at reversing operating losses at Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company.
October 11, 2003 |
A Paris court will hear testimony next week on former Vivendi Universal Chief Executive Jean-Marie Messier's contested severance package, a lawyer said. Current CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou and board members including Edgar Bronfman Jr. have been asked to appear Monday, lawyer Jean-Bernard Thomas said.
October 10, 2003 |
Vivendi Universal subsidiary VUNet USA has agreed to sell Emusic.com Inc., a pioneering online music service, to a New York investment firm for an undisclosed amount, the company said. The sale to Dimensional Associates, which is expected to close at the end of October, could bring an end to Emusic's offer of unlimited downloads from independent record labels for as little as $10 a month. Jon Healey