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General Electric announced completion of the megamerger between its NBC-TV division and Vivendi Universal's entertainment assets Wednesday. When the two parties agreed to the deal last October, reports put the market value of the combined companies at $43 billion. GE owns 80 percent of the new NBC Universal, with Vivendi, the French utility that struggled to become a media conglomerate, retaining a 20 percent stake. The merger brings together the top-rated network among the 18-49 age group that advertisers covet, a major movie studio, a TV production studio, a set of cable channels (notably USA and Bravo), and 29 local TV stations.

Pfizer Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, agreed to settle a fraud case by paying at least $400 million in criminal and civil fines, the financial news service Bloomberg.com. reported. In doing so, Pfizer can avoid a trial in a case that involved the marketing of the epilepsy drug Neurontin for unapproved uses, the report said. The alleged misconduct, in which Pfizer's Parke-Davis unit encouraged doctors to prescribe Neurontin for ailments other than epilepsy and then seek reimbursement from Medicaid, occurred before Pfizer's June 2000 acquisition of Warner-Lambert Co., Parke-Davis's parent.

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