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SEC Formally Investigating Vivendi

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has launched a formal investigation of Vivendi Universal, the Paris-based media conglomerate confirmed late Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Vivendi acknowledged that the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of New York had opened a preliminary criminal investigation in conjunction with the SEC. At that time, the commission's inquiry was informal.

Earlier this year, the Paris prosecutor's officer and the French equivalent to the SEC, the Commission des Operations de Bourse (COB), launched their own criminal investigations into Vivendi in connection with possible misleading information released by the company during the tenure of embattled former chairman Jean Marie Messier.

Messier resigned in July and was replaced by Jean-Rene Fourtou, a well-respected French executive and vice chairman of the supervisory board of Franco-German drug giant Aventis Group.

In a press release late Tuesday, Vivendi said it intends to cooperate fully with the SEC investigation.