French conglomerate Vivendi SA placed 20 percent of its water and waste services operations on the Paris stock exchange. The new listing, Vivendi Environment, includes the operations of well-known American names such as U.S. Filter, The Kinetics Group and Culligan. Plans are for the new company to also be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in the near future.

The move follows Vivendi's announcement in June to acquire liquor and entertainment conglomerate Seagram Co. for $32.26 billion. Vivendi has its sights set on pairing up Seagram's MCA and Universal entertainment division with its own growing Internet operations.

While Vivendi remains the world's biggest water and waste services firm, this side of the business is clearly secondary to Vivendi's core media and communications business.

"Vivendi is such a large company, and it's difficult for stock analysts to value what is becoming Vivendi's main business," said David Pitts, the company's U.S. media representative. "Floating the stock of Vivendi Environment will give each operation its appropriate value."

The proposed company, Vivendi Universal, would be the world's second largest media group, behind American Online Inc.'s pending merger with Time Warner Inc.