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Viv U stock woes could enrich Alpert

Rondor duo can demand cash for low-priced shares

Herb Alpert may soon be stuffing that “Tijuana Taxi” with Jean-Marie Messier’s cash.

Vivendi Universal may have to pay some $250 million to the famed trumpeter and his biz partner Jerry Moss due to conglom’s languishing stock price — a headache that seems to keep getting worse for topper Messier.

In August 2000, Alpert and Moss sold their Rondor Music Intl. music-publishing biz to Universal Music Group for parent-company stock. Under a provision of that transaction disclosed in Vivendi’s latest annual report, the duo can demand a cash payment if Vivendi stock trades at lower than $37.50 for 10 straight days.

That’s occurred each market sesh since April 3, with the stock closing up 14¢ at $32.26 on Wednesday. Alpert and Moss have until 2005 to claim their cash.

There was no immediate indication whether Alpert and Moss are actually seeking the cash payment. The biz partners — whose collaborations over the years also included founding A&M Records — actually sold Rondor to previous Universal parent Seagram, with Vivendi getting the large music-publishing unit when it acquired U in December 2000.

(Bloomberg News contributed to this report.)