Warner Music Group Corp chief executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. has been placed under formal investigation by French authorities as part of a probe into insider trading at Vivendi, Warner said on Thursday.

Bronfman was formerly a director of Vivendi and sold shares in the French media giant in 2002.

The probe centers on trading during the tenure of former Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Marie Messier.

Vivendi Universal nearly collapsed in mid-2002 after a debt-fuelled acquisition spree carried out under Messier to turn the company from a simple utilities company to an international media empire.

Vivendi has since sold off a large number of assets to help pay back its debt.

Thierry Marembert, attorney for Bronfman, said in a statement on Thursday that placing someone under investigation is a preliminary stage of proceedings conducted by two French investigating magistrates and no charges have been filed.

"He will continue to cooperate with the proceedings. Mr. Bronfman's transactions have at all times been proper and at no time did he contravene any French laws or regulations," Marembert said.

Bronfman, who resigned from the Vivendi board in December 2003, provided testimony regarding the matter in June.

"The inquiry has encompassed certain trading by Mr. Bronfman in Vivendi stock. Several individuals, including Mr. Bronfman ... have been given the status of "mise en examen" in connection with the inquiry," Warner said in a Jan. 25 regulatory filing.