Upbeat e-mail tries to calm employees about co.'s future

PARIS — In an e-mail sent to 3,000 Canal Plus employees Wednesday, company toppers Pierre Lescure and Denis Olivennes attempted to assuage mounting concern in their ranks and answer questions about the Gallic paybox’s uncertain future.

But the long-winded missive obtained by Daily Variety failed to answer the question of whether the company can fulfill Vivendi Universal CEO Jean-Marie Messier’s mandate to turn around the group financially by 2004.

Written in an upbeat tone, the communique attempted to paint a picture of a company right on target. “Have we missed our 2001 objectives?” Lescure and Olivennes categorically answered no and provided figures to prove they have even surpassed VU’s goals for the year.

“All that is your success,” they wrote to their extended team. “You have proved with force and talent, during a difficult time, your capacity for adaptation. Bravo to everyone.”

Their answer to why the company has a negative cash flow of 500 million euros ($441 million) suggested that VU shared the decision-making that led to Canal Plus’s financial debacle, especially in regard to the acquisition of money-losing Italian paybox Telepiu.

The two chiefs encouraged their staff to “roll up their sleeves and continue to write the history only you can write.”

Slyly alluding to Messier’s now infamous “cultural exception” remark, they stressed that “our personality, our identity, our style… our diversity, also constitute the richness of Canal Plus, our exception.”

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