Vivendi Shareholders Ask Court to Investigate Messier

17 June 2002

French minority shareholders in troubled Franco-American media giant Vivendi Universal on Friday sought the intervention of a Paris court over the alleged withholding of financial data to the group’s board by chief executive Jean-Marie Messier.

ADAM, a body representing minority shareholders, is concerned that Messier kept board members in the dark about the major decisions of the last two years.

Says ADAM president Colette Neuville: “We want the court to nominate an independent expert to look into how decisions have been taken. This will permit us to start a second action to hold Vivendi’s directors accountable for the company's catastrophic situation.”

In its filing to the court ADAM said external expertise was needed to establish whether the board had received, in the right timeframe, the information needed to properly control and approve group strategy.

Messier, meantime, remains defiant. Speaking in New York on Thursday he blustered: “I'm in charge of the day-to-day, and if the board is not satisfied with my job, they should oust me.” He added that he retained the “strong support of a strong board".

Vivendi declined to comment on the legal challenge, although its shares fell on Friday to a post-1996 nadir, falling by over 4% to €27.88 ($26.35; £17.85).

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