Former Vivendi Universalchief Jean-Marie Messier has been taken into custody by French police today(June 21) as part of a probe into stock manipulation.

French magistrates are investigatinga massive share buyback in which Vivendi allegedly spent over Euros 1bn to propup its own share price in the weeks following the attacks of September 11,2001.

About 21 million shares wereallegedly bought in violation of French rules, which state that buybacks cannottake place within 15 days of a company presenting its financial results.

Messier is being held on theinstruction of financial judge Henri Pons. The order is for an initial 24-hourdetention, but it could be extended to a 48-hour period.