Magistrates quiz Messier

Former Vivendi boss investigated

PARIS — Vivendi Universal’s former chairman Jean-Marie Messier was questioned for four hours in Paris on Wednesday by two French High Court investigating magistrates in connection with a long-running criminal investigation into his tumultuous two-year stewardship of the company, which is now known as Vivendi.

Messier has formally been under judicial scrutiny since June 2004 as part of a wide-ranging probe into manipulation of Vivendi Universal’s stock price, providing false information to French authorities, and misuse of corporation funds for personal gain.

Sources close to the inquiry have stated that another hearing is due in the near future.

The ex-chairman’s persistent legal woes come in a bad week for Vivendi. A Morgan Stanley analyst changed his recommendation from “buy” to “sell,” calling Vivendi’s growth projections for Canal Plus and its games division by 2011 “unrealistic” and expressing surprise at how bullish market expectations were regarding the corporation’s longer-term prospects.

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