Viv U withdraws case vs. Messier, Licoys

Co. drops suit after exec quits claim to E20 mil

PARIS — Vivendi Universal officially withdrew its case against former topper Jean-Marie Messier and former manager director Eric Licoys in the Paris commercial court, the French conglom announced Tuesday.

Viv U said it dropped the suit after Messier’s decision to relinquish his claim to “e20 million following a transaction with the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Viv U and Messier came to an agreement in December, brokered by the SEC, whereby Messier dropped his claim to a $26 million severance package in exchange for Viv U’s shelling out a $62 million fraud penalty to its investors. Neither Messier nor the company admitted any wrongdoing, and the SEC closed its investigation into Viv U’s finances.

While the U.S. settlement ended the legal wrangling between Viv U and its acquisitive former exec, a body representing small shareholders has filed a suit in Paris against Messier, Licoys and current topper Jean-Rene Fourtou. The group, APPAC, is demanding that the current and former execs personally put up $53 million of the $62 million Viv U must pay in fraud penalties under the SEC agreement.

APPAC maintains that it is the execs who are responsible for the dubious accounting that led to the penalty and that the shareholders should not have to suffer for those mistakes.

The Paris commercial court will hear the case March 8.

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