French Court Nixes Messier’s Severance


A Paris court blocked a 20.6 million-euro ($23.5 million) severance
payment to former Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Marie Messier, claiming that
the separation agreement for the controversial executive violated French law.

Messier, who was ousted as chairman of Vivendi last July, had won a U.S.
arbitration hearing last month and was awarded the severance package.

Vivendi -- which had rescinded a severance deal as part of Messier’s French
employment contract on the grounds that he resigned -- had vowed to fight the
U.S. arbitration ruling.

The Paris court acted on the recommendation of the French
securities-regulating body, the Commission des Operations de Bourse (COB).

According to
a statement issued Wednesday by the COB, the court determined that Messier’s employment
agreement did not follow legal procedure.

It added that the money should not be paid to the former executive until
Vivendi shareholders can vote on the matter.

Vivendi had argued that Messier’s severance deal was
never approved by its board of directors.