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Vivendi U’s Messier up for NYSE board slot

Appointment could boost recognition of his co.

NEW YORK — Vivendi Universal CEO Jean-Marie Messier will be formally nominated to the prestigious governing board of the New York Stock Exchange later this month, sources said, likely making him one of only three non-U.S. execs to claim membership.

The 26-person body accepts nominations in mid-March and votes on new members in June. The number of noms almost always matches the number of open spots.

A Vivendi Universal spokeswoman in New York declined to comment.

Messier’s position on the NYSE board could go a long way toward boosting recognition of his company on Wall Street and with U.S. investors — as well as injecting the Paris-based company with a dose of particularly U.S.-style financial expertise.

Board members are elected to two-year stints and can serve a maximum of three consecutive terms. Daimler-Chrysler topper Jurgen Schrempp and Lazard Freres chief Michel David-Weill are the only other European members.

Stateside operator

Messier’s Vivendi gained a U.S. presence last year when it merged with Seagram, parent of Universal Studios and Universal Music, to create a new transatlantic behemoth, Vivendi Universal. Vivendi first was listed on the NYSE in December ahead of the Seagram merger, which closed shortly after.

The NYSE board is made up of 12 directors of public companies (which are listed on the exchange), 12 members of the securities industry, plus NYSE chairman-CEO Richard Grasso and president-chief operating officer William Johnston. Usually about four spots open each year.

Separately, a Milan newspaper said Vivendi Universal might be hashing out a deal with Italy’s Tiscali, the second-largest Internet service provider in Europe. Vivendi could be seeking a new ISP partner, since it’s probably going to sell its stake in AOL France back to AOL Time Warner.

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