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Business & Finance

By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn and Kristen Broman-Worthington / October 30, 2002



Troubled media conglomerate Vivendi Universal became the target of a new investigation by French prosecutors into its accounting practices. Knowledgeable sources said the probe, triggered by a complaint filed by a group of concerned stockholders, will seek to determine whether the company published two years' worth of financial reports that it knew were false or misleading. The investigation comes on top of an inquiry into Vivendi's financial disclosures already under way by a watchdog agency of the Paris stock exchange. Numerous class-action lawsuits filed in France and the US also allege financial misrepresentations. Vivendi is about $18 billion in debt.

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Qwest Communications International will restate $531 million in revenue improperly booked in 2000 and 2001 and will take $10.8 billion in charges on declining assets, the Denver-based company said. A further $30 billion write-down related to its acquisition two years ago of US West, a Baby Bell company, is possible, Qwest said. The revisions are the latest in an ongoing review of accounting practices at Qwest, which is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.

Deutsche Bank is near a deal to sell its securities lending and recordkeeping units to State Street Corp. for up to $1.4 billion, the online news service Bloomberg.com reported. A purchase would make Boston-based State Street the world's largest custodian of assets, Bloomberg said. Neither company would comment on the report.

Citing a "problematic" first half of the business year, electronics giant Fujitsu said it will cut 7,100 more jobs by next spring. Japan's largest maker of computers warned that it expects to lose $890 million over the current year despite an aggressive cost-cutting program. Last year, the company laid off 22,000 workers.

Another 1,000 workers will be laid off by year's end, all of them in the US, the French telephone equipment manufacturer Alcatel said. The company blamed the move on the continuing decline in orders from customers. On Jan. 1, 2000, Alcatel had a global payroll of 113,000 people; by the end of next year the number is projected to be 60,000.

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