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Viv U cleaning house

Grimond, Gros resign; Hannezo may be next

PARIS — The new management of Vivendi Universal is moving quickly to put its stamp on the company, as reports surfaced Friday that two of ousted topper Jean-Marie Messier’s lieutenants had ankled, with a third expected to be out soon.

Vincent Grimond, senior executive VP of Universal Studios, and Messier-appointed communications guru Catherine Gros have handed in their resignations, while Guillaume Hannezo, chief financial officer and Messier’s right-hand man, hinted that his days with Viv U were numbered.

“I have not resigned,” Hannezo said. “It is normal that a new management would need a new CFO. But for the moment, the important thing is to focus on restoring the stability of the company, and I will continue to work towards this goal as long as I am needed.”

Rumors are circulating that new Viv U topper Jean-Rene Fourtou and newly appointed board member Claude Bebear have already drawn up a short list of possible replacements for Hannezo. Bebear, former head of French insurance giant AXA and a close friend of Gallic President Jacques Chirac, was rumored to have engineered Messier’s fall from grace and to have been the driving force in Fourtou’s hiring.

Grimond, who was Messier’s L.A. soldier, has apparently already left his Los Angeles office.

Gros, Messier’s spin doctor and head of Viv U’s communications, has also left, a Viv U insider confirmed.

Gros, Grimond and Hannezo were all part of the high-profile team put in place by Messier to lead the charge in shaping the once-glittering media giant.

The changes come amid an investigation by Gallic market regulator the Commission des Operation de Bourse into Viv U’s financial dealings over the past 18 months.

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