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Published December 28, 2011 11:00PM (EST)

Viacom disputes $383M earn-out bill to Harmonix

NEW YORK (AP) — Viacom Inc. has filed a lawsuit to dispute the finding of accountants appointed to resolve a contract battle between it and the maker of the "Rock Band" video games, Harmonix Music Systems Inc.

The accountants determined last week that Viacom owes the former shareholders of Harmonix an additional $383 million because of a so-called "earn-out" clause that rewards the sellers of the game maker with bonuses if it continued to perform well under new ownership.

Harmonix' former shareholders had sought $700 million in the earn-out.

Viacom said in a securities filing Tuesday that evidence and arguments had been "improperly excluded" by the accountants and it sought to overturn the determination. Viacom filed the lawsuit in the Delaware Court of Chancery.

Viacom said Tuesday that it would reflect the results of the suit in the discontinued operations segment of its first quarter results.

Viacom sold money-losing Harmonix in December 2010 to investment firm Columbus Nova after the play-along game featuring plastic guitars fell increasingly out of step with consumers. Viacom's MTV Networks bought Harmonix in 2006 for $175 million in cash plus earn-out payments through 2008.


France Telecom agrees to sell Orange Switzerland

PARIS (AP) — France Telecom says it has agreed to sell its Swiss mobile phone subsidiary to a British private equity group.

France Telecom and Apax Partners, which advises a number of private equity funds, agreed to a price of €1.6 billion ($2.1 billion) on Friday for Orange Switzerland.

In its announcement Saturday, France Telecom said the deal must still be approved by Swiss authorities. It will be submitted to France Telecom's board during January.

London-based Apax advises a group of private equity funds and has completed six buyouts this year worth €10.2 billion.

By Salon Staff

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