Vivendi SA investors asked a Paris court to order former Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marie Messier and six other former executives, as well as the company, to repay them money lost during a $77 billion acquisition spree.
Vivendi isn’t a defendant and has participated in the trial claiming it was also a victim of the acquisition campaign that preceded Messier’s 2002 ouster. The company’s lawyer said today that its goal was to “aid in a manifestation of the truth” of the Messier era and said it should pay no damages.
Vivendi joined the case “so that we might at last turn the page, so that we can focus on what Vivendi does now,” company lawyer Herve Pisani said.
Shareholder lawyer Frederik-Karel Canoy asked the court to “set a precedent,” estimating the loss at 160 euros ($198) per share and seeking 10 euros a share in prejudice. He told the court Vivendi should join in paying. An award would tell shareholders “if we can stay in France or do we have to go to the U.S.”
French investors joined a class action in New York, where the jury in January cleared Messier and former Chief Financial Officer Guillaume Hannezo of wrongdoing while finding the company liable for misleading investors. Vivendi has appealed and set aside 550 million euros for any potential award.
The Paris prosecutor advised against the trying the case, saying there was insufficient evidence to support the charges. An investigating judge overruled the decision.