French shareholder association APPAC has launched a civil suit claiming insider trading at media group Vivendi Universal.

The legal action is connected with the undisclosed acquisition of a stake in the company by a family trust belonging to ceo Jean Rene Fourtou. The trust purchased 17% of a €115 million bond issue, part of a €1 billion refinancing in November 2002.

Because of the acquisition's size, some investors feel Fourtou should have declared it -- though he was under no legal obligation to do so when the transaction was made. Last August, French law was changed so that purchases of this nature must be disclosed.

French regulator the Autorité des Marchés Financiers has been investigating the transaction since December 2002 and is due to finish the probe next month.

Vivendi argues Fourtou only made the purchase after speaking with AMF chief Gerard Rameix.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff