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EC STILL DECIDING TO DECIDE
ON VIVENDI DEAL

More Pressing Decision Facing Commission
Is What To Wear
Will Friday the 13th be the lucky day for the planned merger between Vivendi and Seagram?

The European Commission has set Friday (10/13) as its latest deadline to decide whether to approve the deal, which would create communications giant Vivendi Universal. The decision was expected to come earlier this month, but the EC requested additional information from Seagram, Vivendi and Vivendi subsidiary Canal Plus.

European media reports have been contradictory regarding whether the decision will be handed down or not.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, the commission's directorate-general for competition was expected to delay its go-ahead and open a further, four-month inquiry, due to the EC's apprehension to giving Canal Plus automatic and exclusive access to Universal's wealth of film rights.

Fears over the delay sent Seagram's stock down $2.75 or more than 4%, to close at $54 on the New York Stock Exchange after trading as low as $52 earlier in the day. Back in Paris, shares of Vivendi also came under scrutiny, falling 1.74% to close at 84.50 euros.

In a separate filing, the paper stated: "Barring a surprise, Mario Monti, the European Commission member in charge of competition, will not give the go-ahead to the merger." On Wednesday (10/11), German paper FT Deutschland reported a source close to the EC said the commission was expected approve the deal.

The EC has stated its options are open. Said a commission spokesperson: "It could be either a Phase One approval, or a Phase Two (detailed) inquiry. Either way, the Phases are set on stun."

The merger had been expected to pass on the grounds all parties involved offered concessions, which normally guarantees European approval.

Said a Vivendi spokesperson: "The talks are continuing. They have until tomorrow midnight."

Regarding those talks, Dow Jones Newswires reports that execs from Vivendi and Canal Plus have scheduled a last-minute meeting today with EC officials, apparently to discuss further concessions prior to tomorrow's ruling by the commission..

Showing an uncanny ability to be in two places at once, these same Vivendi execs, along with their Seagram and Canal Plus counterparts, are holding an Investor Conference today and tomorrow in Paris to present the strategic rationale behind the creation of Vivendi Universal.

"Vivendi Universal will be a global company for the Digital Age," said Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier, who chaired the conference. "Vivendi Universal will be a consumer-focused, performance-driven, values-based global media and communications company."

Also speaking at the pep rally were Seagram CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. and Canal Plus CEO Pierre Lescure.

"The combination of experienced international management skills and a solid balance sheet blah blah blah strong cash-flow generation yadda yadda thrive in the new global media industry," said Bronfman to his captive audience.

Messier countered by using the phrases "growth opportunities" and "state-of-the-art interactive distribution channels" in one sentence.

Awards will be given out to the exec who can coin the most hyphenates (like Messier's "consumer-focused, performance-driven, values-based" hat trick) as well as to the exec who logs the most "synergy" mentions.

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