Vivendi sues Deutsche Telekom in US court

After clattering through European courtrooms from London to Warsaw, a brawl between France's Vivendi and Germany's Deutsche Telekom burst into the US on Tuesday, and the seven-year fight over Central Europe's leading mobile operator got dirtier, an Associated Press report said.

The report said Vivendi had filed a $7.5-billion suit in a US court to press accusations that Elektrim, its former investment partner in Poland, conspired with Deutsche Telekom to cheat the Paris-based entertainment and telecom company out of a multibillion-euro investment in Polish cellular network Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa (PTC).

In a rare step, the suit against Deutsche Telekom, its T-Mobile subsidiary and controlling Elektrim shareholder Zygmunt Solorz-Zak was filed in Seattle, home to T-Mobile's US headquarters, under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act - a law enacted to combat organized crime, the report said.

The ownership dispute goes back to 1999, when Vivendi began investing a total of more than $2.5 billion in a joint venture with Elektrim intended to control PTC through a 51% stake. At that stage, Deutsche Telekom already owned just less than a quarter of the mobile operator.

But the French company has been left empty-handed after billionaire Solorz-Zak declared the agreement void without refunding the cash - a decision Vivendi had failed to overturn in dozens of court and arbitration hearings since, the report said.

Deutsche Telekom now claims to own 97% of PTC after making an initial $753-million payment to Elektrim as part of an agreement to acquire the disputed holding from the near-bankrupt Polish conglomerate, the report further said.

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