Founded in Paris in 1853 as Compagnie Générale des Eaux, to supply water to Paris, Lyons, Venice and Constantinople. From there it expanded into waste management, transportation, construction, and energy. Helped create Canal+ in 1983. In the 1990s it moves into telecommunications and software. In 2000, with 275,000 employees in 90 countries, the company merged with Canal+ and Seagram to create a global media and telecommunications giant called Vivendi Universal. In 2003, saddled with debt from its acquisition sprees, it sold off 80% of its Universal entertainment properties (movies, television, and theme parks), although it did not sell its Universal Music Group.

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