Fri, Feb 02, 2001 EST
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Vivendi Layoffs To Focus On U.S.
By Allyson Lieberman   N.Y. Post
Layoffs are on their way at Vivendi Universal - mostly in the U.S.

Responding to a report in the Financial Times that said thousands of employees were expected to be pink-slipped, Vivendi Universal chief Jean-Marie Messier said the company is committed to cutting costs by $385 million in 2002.

He told Reuters "the main part of these savings will come from common purchasing, logistics optimization and moving towards common information systems."

"Job cuts linked to the merger and outside of normal activities will be limited and focused mainly on the headquarters, particularly in the United States," he added.

Vivendi Universal declined to comment on the number of staffers expected to be laid off, except to say the cuts will not be "massive." The combined company employes about 71,000 people.

Still, industry watchers began speculating yesterday about which divisions would be hit hardest. The film unit is the likeliest to see some cuts, say media analysts who point to duplications between Universal Pictures and Canal Plus, Vivendi's film arm. The cuts are not expected to hit the executive suite at Universal Pictures, however, as its leaders Ron Meyer and Stacy Snider are credited with boosting the studio into second place last year.

Universal Music Group is believed to be safe from mass job cuts. The music company has already been pared down thanks to its merger with PolyGram Music. And since Vivendi doesn't have its own music division, job overlaps are few and far between.

Barry Hyman, chief investment strategist at Weatherly Securities, said, "The timing of the deal can be looked at as flawed because of the slowdown in the economy."

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