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Vivendi trims staff in new division

The French media giant is restructuring a recently created online business unit, cutting 20 percent of the division's work force.

    French media giant Vivendi Universal said Tuesday that it is restructuring a recently created online business unit, cutting 20 percent of the division's work force.

    Vivendi Universal Net USA Group will eliminate 130 jobs, focusing on redundant positions in finance, human resources, marketing and sales, Vivendi said. Staff members, who will be given compensation packages, are being notified this week. The company said the cuts are intended to move the unit toward profitability.

    Vivendi further said that GetMusic Chief Executive Andrew Nibley will leave the company to pursue other interests. Nibley is not among the 130 employees who will be laid off.

    Two weeks ago, Vivendi formed Net USA to gather the company's music, games and educational Web sites under one umbrella. The company tapped Robin Richards, chief executive of MP3.com, which Vivendi recently acquired, to head the Los Angeles-based unit. He will oversee Web sites including EMusic, GetMusic.com, RollingStone.com, Uproar, iWin and Flipside.

    The move comes as the online entertainment landscape undergoes a transformation, particularly the music scene. RealNetworks on Tuesday launched its online music subscription service, dubbed RealOne Music, which licenses content from MusicNet, a joint venture between RealNetworks and record label owners AOL Time Warner, Bertelsmann and EMI Group.

    Vivendi Universal is expected launch its own music service, dubbed Pressplay, through a joint venture with Sony. Pressplay is built on software provided by MP3 Technologies, the technology arm of MP3.com.