Grimond exits after Viv U merger fails

Exec to stay in H'wood, but may pursue French ambitions

PARIS — Vincent Grimond, a key exec in the once-mooted operational merger of Vivendi Universal’s U.S. and French media businesses, has ankled the company.

Grimond was dispatched to Los Angeles in January 2001 to be senior executive vice president, operations and finance, at the Universal Studios Group, reporting to Ron Meyer.

Before that he had been chairman and CEO of Studio Canal. “One of my functions was to establish an efficacious relationship between the studios in the U.S. and in Europe. There was substance in the project.”

“But that’s no longer on the agenda,” Grimond told Daily Variety, adding, “Ever since the rapprochement of Universal and USA I had been asking myself what I really wanted to do.”

For now Grimond and his family are staying in Los Angeles. “I don’t know how many French people have had the good fortune to work in Hollywood at the level that I did,” he said.

But in the longer term, he will pursue his ambitions back in France. He wants to stay in the film biz, and doesn’t rule out doing business with the Canal Plus Group, with whom he parted “on amicable terms.”

A number of other execs catapulted from one continent to the other at the time of the merger have also upped sticks, including Bill Sutman, who left the Canal Plus Group where he was executive vice president, finance, in June, returning to L.A. to become executive VP and chief financial officer at Universal Pictures.

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