Viv U exex face $53 mil bill

Suit summons Fourtou, Messier, Licoys

NEW YORK — A group representing small shareholders of Vivendi Universal has filed a lawsuit — again — against some of the conglom’s current and former execs, this time demanding the execs put e42.2 million ($53 million) of their own money into the company’s coffers.

Chairman-CEO Jean-Rene Fourtou, former CEO Jean-Marie Messier and former managing director Eric Licoys have all been summoned to the commercial court in Paris by the group, called APPAC, which hopes to overturn last month’s controversial settlement between Vivendi and Messier, which was brokered by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The deal called for Messier to drop his claim to a $26 million severance payment and pay a fine of $2 million if Vivendi paid about $62 million in a fraud penalty to Viv U’s investors.

Vivendi and Messier agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying liability. And the SEC closed its investigation into shady financial disclosure by Vivendi during the Messier regime.

But APPAC wants the bulk of Viv U’s payment to come from the three execs’ pockets — not from company funds.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for Jan 26.

Messier’s aggressive acquisition strategy has been blamed for driving Vivendi to the brink of ruin, and Fourtou had sworn never to pay Messier a penny in severance.

Shareholders big and small are suing the company and assorted execs for dubious accounting and issuing misleading financial reports under Messier.

(French wire service AFX contributed to this report).

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