Business & Finance

Shareholders were to be summoned to a new annual meeting of media giant Vivendi after the company announced that the computerized voting system at last week's original meeting apparently had been tampered with by hackers. Reports said the new meeting could be held as early as June. Suspicions arose at the first session in Paris Wednesday when an abnormally high percentage of abstentions – 19 to 20, compared to the normal 3 percent – was recorded among investors using hand-held remote voting devices. As a result, the votes on all 18 resolutions acted upon at the meeting were declared null and void. The company said it has contacted law-enforcement agencies for help and was prepared to file a lawsuit against the hackers once they were identified.

TRW Inc. said it signed confidentiality agreements to share financial records with several "interested parties" Friday, but that rival defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. wasn't among them. Northrop has launched a $6.7 billion hostile takeover bid for TRW. Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin Corp., the US's largest defense contractor, is lobbying against the proposed merger, telling the federal government it would be anticompetitive, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Fox Entertainment Group pulled out of a joint venture with The Walt Disney Co. to offer movies on demand over the Internet. Fox, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., said "was not an appropriate initiative at this time."

Dell Computer said it is putting on hold plans to build a factory in Brazil after a $55 million investment, the Financial Times reported. The decision to continue renting, rather than build, facilities near the border with Argentina is a result of the Argentine debt crisis and disappointing sales in Brazil, the paper said, quoting Dell executives.

VeriSign Inc. shares plummeted 45 percent, closing at $9.89 Friday, a day after the company posted lower-than-expected first-quarter revenues and announced it was cutting 350 jobs. VeriSign, based in Mountain View, Calif., provides computer security and registers domain names for websites.

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