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EC wants more Vivendi-Seagram info

Commission has 'stopped the clock' on merger scrutiny

PARIS — The European Commission has temporarily halted its scrutiny of the multimillion-dollar Vivendi-Canal Plus/Seagram (Universal) merger until the companies give more details about the deal.

In Brussels on Wednesday, commission spokeswoman Amelia Torres said: “We have stopped the clock. We have to wait until these companies send us the missing information.”

She did not spell out what elements were lacking from the merger plans submitted July 17 to Mario Monti, competition commissioner. The EC had been due to complete its initial scrutiny of the merger by Aug. 21.

Participants confident

Vivendi and Canal Plus were quick to play down the commission’s pronouncements Wednesday, saying they were confident about the commission’s phase I examination of the merger and hoped a definitive decision would be forthcoming by the end of September.

Should the deal go through as planned, the merger will form the second-biggest media group in the world — after AOL Time Warner, undergoing merger scrutiny in the U.S. — with combined revenues of $55 billion.

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