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"Job cuts linked to the merger and outside of normal activities will be limited and focused mainly on the headquarters, particularly in the United States."
——Vivendi Universal chief Jean-Marie Messier
VIVENDI UNIVERSAL EXPECTED
TO TRIM U.S. STAFF
Workers Urged to Take Advantage of Free French Bread And Perrier While They Can

Vivendi Universal is gearing up to slim down its staff, with the bulk of layoffs expected to hit the company's U.S. divisions.

According to the Financial Times, Vivendi Universal chief Jean-Marie Messier aims to cut costs by $385 million in 2002.

In a response to Reuters, Messier said: "Job cuts linked to the merger and outside of normal activities will be limited and focused mainly on the headquarters, particularly in the United States."

While it's not known how many of the company's 71,000 employees would be given pink slips, industry watchers predict the layoffs will target staffing redundancies. Most likely to see cuts is the film unit, due to duplications between Universal Pictures and Vivendi's Canal Plus film branch. Vivendi's lack of its own music division could spare Universal Music Group's staff, which was already pared down from its merger with PolyGram Music.

Vivendi Universal is expected to release more details when it announces its financial results in early March.

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