Table: Downward Spiral

1996

Jean-Marie Messier becomes CEO of Générale des Eaux and renames it Vivendi

2000

Buys Seagram Co. and Pay-TV group Canal+ for $34 billion

2001

Runs up more than $25 billion debt with acquisitions such as USA Networks, Houghton Mifflin

MARCH, 2002

Posts $12 billion loss for 2001 after $14 billion asset write-down

MAY, 2002

Board names corporate governance oversight panel to oversee Messier

JUNE, 2002

Board stands by Messier after shares plunge to 14-year low; board ally Bernard Arnault quits

Data: BusinessWeek

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