ADAM, the Vivendi Universal shareholder protection group led by activist Colette Neuville, last week had its application for an audit of the media titan’s corporate governance rejected by the Paris Commercial Court.
Snarled Neuville following the verdict: “It's not by refusing transparency that Vivendi is going to ease the market's concerns.” Messier responded in typical fashion – by offering the activist a seat on Vivendi’s board – but Neuville was not to be bought that easily. “I'm more useful where I am. As a minority shareholder, I have a role to play. I would be of no use on a board that has lost its credibility.”
Meantime, the controversial magnate may have bigger challenges to face. According to informants close to the situation, France's High Court is poised to rule that Vivendi’s ownership of Canal Plus is in contravention of French law – a decision which could force the sale of the flagship TV offshoot in whole or part.
Such a decision would effectively torpedo Messier’s master gameplan – to route Vivendi’s stateside media content (Universal Studios’ films plus the output of Universal Music Group) through its European distribution outlets. Canal Plus is Europe’s largest pay-TV company, and mainly airs movies and sports on its channels.
Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff