Television

US court asks Vivendi to pay Messier $24 million

MUMBAI: A US court on Monday directed Vivendi Universal to pay former chief executive Jean-Marie Messier 20.6 million euros ($23.6 million) in a severance deal, one year after his exit from the media group.

The New York state court order contradicts an earlier French ruling and Vivendi now says it would challenge the decision by the tribunal after seeking to void Messier's termination agreement, according to media reports.

Messier had to exit the company last year after spiralling investor revolt, with the company blaming him for taking Vivendi to the brink of bankruptcy. Messier claims he was owed the severance payment written into the American part of his contract. However, his successor Jean-Rene Fourtou was quoted as saying that he deserves "nothing", reports say.

While the media baron was responsible for turning around Vivendi from a staid water-and-sewage firm into one of largest media empires, Messier was forced to give up a $17.5-million apartment in New York and other lavish trappings of his role as chief executive of the world's second biggest media company, after being sacked in a boardroom coup last year.

Angry shareholders had then felt that as the company's debts piled up, Messier misled them about the company's financial health at the fag end of his career.

Vivendi has since put up for sale the US entertainment business that was central to Messier's vision. The board is expected to review six bids for the Universal film, television and theme park business in a meeting in Paris today, says a Reuters report.

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