Vivendi’s heated exchange

Chair upbeat about merger, future French projects

PARIS — Jean-Marie Messier Tuesday brushed off suggestions that the weak euro could jeopardize the three-way merger between Vivendi, Canal Plus, and Seagram.

On Monday night, the Vivendi chairman said in a French radio interview that because of the strength of the dollar against the struggling European currency, the deal could cost Vivendi “10% more than was planned.”

“We will create a few more shares than expected,” Messier told France Info.

Messier’s comments were followed by a sharp drop in Vivendi’s share price on the French stock market Tuesday morning, to a three-week low of 87.2 euros ($74.48). However, by close of trading the share price had crept back up to $75.81.

The Vivendi chief could not resist coming back at TF1 boss Patrick Le Lay for recently remarking that, for outsiders, a dollar spent in Hollywood was a dollar lost. He dismissed the comment as “typical of the Asterix complex.”

Messier said: “Enough of these little Frenchmen who have such a complex that they think they are incapable of measuring up to the Americans. We are equal to the Americans — let’s show it.”

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