Vivendi Universal made it official late Wednesday, confirming beleaguered
chairman Jean-Marie Messier's resignation and naming Jean-Rene Fourtou as his
Fourtou, vice chairman of French drug maker Aventis' supervisory board, was
widely expected to take Messier's place.
In addition, Vivendi named AXA Financial Inc. supervisory board chairman
Claude Bebear and Philips Electronics NV chief executive Gerard Kleisterlee to
its board of directors. Bebear and Kleisterlee replace Jean-Louis Beffa and
Philippe Foriel-Destezet, who resigned from the board earlier this month.
Bebear had been critical of Messier's management style in the past. According
to a May report in French newspaper La Tribune, Bebear, also a major
Vivendi stockholder, blasted company management, citing a 'decision-making
problem in the company.'
In a prepared statement, Vivendi said it will create a financial committee
chaired by Bebear and a strategy committee that will be headed by board member
and chairman of electric-equipment company Schneider Electric Industries Henri
Vivendi said it will give highest priority to creating financial transparency
and resolving short-term financing issues.
'In the next two weeks, all possible measures will be taken to improve the
situation, particularly in terms of the short-term cash position,' Fourtou said
in a prepared statement. 'I have every confidence that the company has the
strengths to address its liquidity issues and to find the appropriate solutions
in the immediate term.'
He added, 'The board of directors and all of the company employees remain
fully prepared to do their utmost to ensure the continued strengths of our
operations. Vivendi Universal has everything it needs to be optimistic about the
future as we begin to restore confidence and health to our
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