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VIVENDI/SEAGRAM MERGER PROBE DELAYED

EU Puts Vivendi Takeover On Ice
With A Twist Of Lemon
Vivendi's world domination plans will have to wait a little longer, as the European Commission announced on Wednesday (8/9) it needed more information for its review of the French utility's takeover of Seagram and Canal Plus.

The EU Commission said it had suspended its probe into the competition aspects of the $34 billion deal while the companies provide it with further data.

The investigation of the deal was expected to conclude by Aug. 21, with a decision either to approve it or launch a more extensive, four-month probe. That decision is now delayed.

Vivendi and Canal Plus said they remained confident the EU would soon rule in favor of the merger. "Following the issues raised by the Commission today," Vivendi said in a statement, "a complementary filing could be expected at the end of August and could hopefully lead to a final decision before the end of September."

According to Commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres, "We have stopped the clock. We have to wait until the companies send us the missing information. When this is done we will start the clock again."

Neither the EU Commission nor Vivendi would specify the exact information required by the Commission.

Meanwhile, Canal Plus reports its first-half sales rose 20.1% to about $1.7 billion as subscriptions to the channels of Europe's largest pay-television company grew. Subscription revenue rose 13.7%, and advertising and sponsorship revenue rose 45%. Other revenue, including from sports broadcasting and film library sales, rose 52%.

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