US Judge Freezes Messier’s Exit Payoff

25 September 2003

The quondam Duke of dealmaking, Jean-Marie Messier, is likely suffering from acute tennis neck as he watches his €20.6 million ($23.68m; £14.29m) exit handout from Vivendi Universal swing from ‘Pay’ to ‘No Way’ in a series of conflicting judicial decisions [WAMN: 17-Sep-03].

The former chairman/ceo (and chief begetter) of the global media and entertainment empire suffered a setback in the New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday. The judge upheld a request from the US Securities and Exchange Commission to impound his golden parachute pending the SEC's investigation into possible corporate malfeasance at Vivendi during Messier's reign.

The New York decision aligns with that of a French court in August which upheld Vivendi’s claim that that the payoff was granted without board authorization by its [then] chief operating officer, Eric Licoys [WAMN: 21-Aug-03]. As a result of which the group now seeks damages both from Licoys and Messier.

Meantime, Messier has a few days in which to appeal the New York decision and the SEC has 45 days to bring a formal case against the beleaguered former chairman. Insiders say it will be ready to do so in December – well within the period of the stay order.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff