Vivendi Titan Quits for Oversight Role

29 April 2005

The Titans were godlike giants who created order from chaos.

Their earthy representative in this secular age is Jean-René Fourtou, chairman and chief executive of Vivendi Universal, who at Thursday's annual meeting stepped down from the day-to-day leadership of the French media and telecommunications group.

But the much lauded inheritor of the chaos created by former Vivendi chairman/ceo Jean-Marie Messier is not forsaking the group he delivered from the three-ring circus.

Instead he will ascend a celestial staircase to the strains of a heavenly choir and assume the chair of Vivendi's new advisory board - the creation of which was approved Thursday by the group's stockholders.

Under Fourtou's steady hand, Vivendi returned to profit in 2004 after three years of eye-watering losses. According to today's Financial Times, he took "evident pleasure in showing shareholders a chart showing how complicated and sprawling Vivendi was in July 2002."

Fourtou told investors and analysts that the subsequent sale of €22 billion ($28.42bn; £14.88bn) of assets - spread across almost ninety disposals - had created a business that is now growing in all its units.

The group also raised its profit forecast for 2005, predicting an underlying net profit of at least €1.8bn. In 2006 this could exceed €2bn.

Fourtou's former role as chief executive is filled by chief operating officer Jean-Bernard Lévy.

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