French investor suit alleges Viv U ‘fakery’

Shareholders say they received 'erroneous' financial info

PARIS — One thousand Gallic investors filed a class-action civil lawsuit Monday against the directors of Vivendi Universal for “fakery” and the “distribution of fictitious dividends.”

The shareholders, who comprise the group APPAC, declare they were duped by an “erroneous presentation of the group’s results and its financial situation.”

This suit is separate from the one filed July 18 by a group of American investors in New York federal court against Viv U and Jean-Marie Messier, charging the conglom’s ousted ex-prexy swindled investors by playing down the group’s financial crisis (Daily Variety, July 19).

Viv U’s debt is estimated at $19 billion.

French matter

“It is indispensable that this matter, which concerns a French company, be treated by the French justice system,” APPAC president Didier Cornardeau said Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, French stock market watchdog the Commission des Operations en Bourse (COB) opened an investigation into Viv U’s financial dealings over the 18 months.

As a result, the company postponed the publication of its second-quarter and first-half 2002 results, due last Friday, until Aug. 14.

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