French media giant

Vivendi

(V) - Get Report

finally confirmed that

Aventis

(AVE)

board member Jean-Rene Fourtou will become its new chairman and chief executive, replacing Jean-Marie Messier, who has resigned under pressure from the board.

Vivendi, which owns various properties including Universal Studios, also named Claude Bebear, chairman of the supervisory board of

AXA

(AXA)

, and Gerard Kleisterlee, CEO of

Philips Electronics

(PHG) - Get Report

, to the board.

Messier will reportedly receive a severance package valued at around $17.8 million.

Fourtou was seen as the probable successor to Messier, whose run at the helm basically ended over the weekend as Vivendi's board lost faith in him and his management style. This week has been tough on the company, a former water utility called Generale des Eaux, even without the management shakeup.

Questions have been raised about the company's accounting, and two ratings agencies, Standard & Poor's and Moody's, cut their ratings on Vivendi's debt.

In a press release discussing the management changes, Vivendi also said it would form a financial committee and a strategy committee, along with giving "highest priority to creating financial transparency and resolving short term financing issues."

Fourtou, in a statement, said, "In the next two weeks, all possible measures will be taken to improve the situation, particularly in terms of the short-term cash position. 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."

Shares of Vivendi ended down $2.10, or 12%, to $15.66, after sinking as low as $13.40 earlier in the session. Since the beginning of the year, Vivendi has fallen 68%. Just a month ago, the stock traded above $30.