Vivendi Universal

(V) - Get Report

Chairman Jean-Marie Messier will resign his position under heavy pressure from board members, according to several reports.

Messier initially fought for his position, but he agreed to step down Sunday, the reports said. The company directors had reportedly lost faith in Messier's leadership after the stock dropped 60% to new 13-year lows.

Messier transformed Vivendi into a huge media conglomerate, purchasing Universal Studios and Universal Music, as well as Canal+ in France, but leaves the company with a huge debt load and big losses. Board members from the U.S. had been calling for Messier's resignation for several months.

The company's board is expected to replace Messier with Jean-Rene Fourtou, vice chairman of pharmaceutical company

Aventis

(AVE)

, for a six-month interim period.

Shares of Vivendi Universal were climbing about 11% to $23.83 in premarket trading on the news after closing at $21.50 Friday.