Vivendi ponders e-business cull andgrapples with hacking crisis

Vivendi Universal, the French-based entertainment, publishing, environmental services and telecommunications company, is...

Vivendi Universal, the French-based entertainment, publishing, environmental services and telecommunications company, is considering the future of its Internet activities.

Vivendi, which is also embroiled in legal action over the alleged hacking of electronic voting at its annual shareholder meeting next week, is to review in the future of the Vizzavi portal.

Vizzavi, jointly owned by Vodafone, was one of the most expensive dotcoms, with a start-up capital of £960m.

As the Vivendi board contemplates the future of its online products, including Scoot and iFrance, more details have emerged about voting problems at its shareholder meeting.

Vivendi's suspicions were raised by the large number of abstentions on each of 19 resolutions at the meeting. The number of abstentions exceeded 20% - and shareholders representing some 20% of the votes cast were present at the meeting, where an electronic system was used to record their decisions.

Some of the largest shareholders present, including Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, told Vivendi that the abstentions recorded did not reflect the actual electronic vote, despite confirmation on their voting machine control panel, the company said.

Officials appointed to supervise the vote have placed the equipment used under seal. A preliminary inspection of the equipment revealed no signs of tampering, Vivendi said.

However, it said that a small team with a transmitter-receiver and detailed knowledge of the protocols used by the wireless voting system could have manipulated the vote.

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