“All available legal actions” will be taken by Vivendi Universal to ensure its former chairman/ceo Jean-Marie Messier does not lay hands on a €20.6 million ($23.78m; £14.38m) severance award handed-out Monday by a New York arbitration panel.

Messier, whose frenzied deal-making resulted in a €14 billion debt mountain and almost bankrupted the Franco-American media giant, was awarded the sum despite a counter-claim by Vivendi that his severance contract was invalid.

“After reviewing the tribunal findings, Vivendi Universal intends to challenge this decision through all available legal actions, both in France and in the US,” said the group.

Vivendi’s board will meet in Paris today. Topping the agenda is a shortlist of bidders for its US entertainment assets – closely followed by the Messier severance payment.

Chairman Jean-René Fourtou told investors at Vivendi’s annual meeting in Paris earlier this year: “We will pay him nothing.”

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff