One week after becoming the subject of a criminal probe in France, Vivendi Universal has now officially fallen under US scrutiny.
The company will be examined by the US Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York and the Security and Exchange Commission's Miami office.
The ailing media giant is already the object of investigations by French stockmarket regulator COB and French justice officials, which are looking at results for 2000 and 2001 to determine whether or not Vivendi falsified accounting in order to hide a financial crisis and embellished projections. The US probes have not yet been clearly defined.
Vivendi Universal's Paris headquarters did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
A press release from Vivendi Universal's Paris office stated the company would cooperate fully with the US investigations as well as reiterating its intention to cooperate with the French inquiries.
Although the practice of investigating large companies has become somewhat de rigeur in the past year in America, the action is less common in France. In the US and France several lawsuits have already been filed by shareholders against Vivendi which claim that the company, under former chairman Jean-Marie Messier, hoodwinked investors over the course of the past two years. Vivendi stock has been on a downward spiral for over a year with the current price around $12.75.
Now under the stewardship of Jean-Rene Fourtou, Vivendi Universal is busily off-loading assets to raise cash. On Friday, the company announced it was in exclusive negotiations with a consortium formed by Thomas H. Lee Partners, Blackstone Group, Bain Capital and Apax Partners to sell publishing giant Houghton Mifflin for Euros1.75.