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VIVENDI VOTING CONTROVERSY
Computer Hacking Blamed at Shareholders Meeting; Hackers Sought

Vivendi Universal will file a court complaint seeking criminal charges over suspected hacking of computer voting at its turbulent shareholders' meeting last week.

Some shareholders will join the legal action on today the company said yesterday, according to various press reports.

According to the Associated Press, Vivendi did not name suspects, but said the vote manipulation "could have been carried out by a small team armed with a transmitter-receiver and detailed knowledge of the procedures and technical protocols of electronic voting."

Routine checks of the voting at Wednesday's meeting showed an unusually high abstention rate. Vivendi said it found no problems with voting equipment and learned from shareholders that the abstention rate didn't match up with votes that had been cast.

"This incident is extremely serious because it could cast suspicion on the entire Paris market and all shareholders' meetings carried out by electronic vote today, and in the future over the Internet," Vivendi said.

Vivendi said its board would gather today to set a new meeting for early June so shareholders can cast new votes on 19 resolutions—including a much-contested plan to award stock options to top executives. The proposal was rejected at the shareholders' meeting.

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