Vivendi Says Rebound Is on Schedule - TheStreet

Vivendi Says Rebound Is on Schedule

The company reiterates its desire to keep its former CEO from getting a big severance check.
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Vivendi Universal

(V) - Get Report

says the job of cleaning up the mess left by its former chief executive is proceeding at a "sustained pace."

Following a Tuesday board meeting, Paris-based Vivendi said it would begin in-depth negotiations with selected bidders or partners for its movie, theme park and television businesses.

Additionally, Vivendi said it has met midyear targets for raising cash and lowering debt, and the conglomerate confirmed that it would seek to overturn an arbitration decision awarding Jean-Marie Messier, the former CEO, a 20-million-euro severance payment.

Shares in Vivendi fell 40 cents Tuesday to trade at $18.04.

Vivendi, which nearly collapsed last year from the debt incurred under Messier's leadership, is seeking an orderly disposal of its Vivendi Universal Entertainment subsidiary, which controls U.S.-based entertainment operations other than its record label.

Of the six entities bidding for all or part of VUE, one has been eliminated,

Reuters

reported Tuesday: a group led by billionaire Texas oilman Marvin Davis. That would leave, according to various press reports, Vivendi Universal Vice Chairman (and Messier-burned Seagram scion) Edgar Bronfman Jr., who is teaming up with cable operator

Cablevision

(CVC)

;

Liberty Media

(L) - Get Report

; NBC parent

General Electric

(GE) - Get Report

;

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

(MGM) - Get Report

; and

Viacom

(VIAB) - Get Report

.

In its post-meeting statement, Vivendi Universal's board said the situation of its main business units, including VUE and the French telecom company Cegetel, is "highly satisfactory." Under current CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou, Vivendi Universal is seeking to focus on its telecommunications operations.

The board reiterated the company's previous announcement that it would take all available legal action, in both France and the U.S., to fight last week's U.S. arbitration decision awarding Messier his $24 million severance check.