PARIS — The plot thickens in the Vivendi vs. Jean-Marie Messier saga.
On top of a legal battle over a $20 million golden parachute that a U.S. court has ordered Viv U to pay its sacked chief, shareholders in France are furious over extravagant perks allegedly paid for by the company during Messier’s stint in New York.
According to France’s Small Shareholders Assn., which has filed a suit with a French court, Viv U picked up the tab for a $140,000-a-year butler — denied by Messier but reportedly referred to in a company email — a $75,000-a-year chauffeur for Messier’s wife and heating bills in the family’s Park Avenue apartment.
A spokesman for Messier denied there was a butler and told daily Le Parisien that the shareholders org was “making a mountain out of a molehill.”
The same organization has also crossed swords with Viv U’s present management — which it has vociferously accused of keeping shareholders in the dark about the extent of the conglom’s financial problems.
Vivendi Universal is reportedly suing the shareholders association on two scores, for making statements that caused the share price to drop and for the comments of its president Didier Cornardeau at the last annual shareholder’s meeting. Among other things Cornardeau called for chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou’s resignation.