Vivendi Universal meltdown

Vivendi Universal’s weird transition from a French water company to a media conglomerate is — astoundingly enough — failing to hold together. Chairman Jean-Marie Messier has been forced to quit, the stock has taken a 42% dive (and pulled down other French stocks with it) and the company is now being looked into for questionable accounting practices. Messier is trying for a €20 million severance package for his excellent work.

Universal Studios and Universal Music are expected to be able to continue present operations in the event of a breakup of Vivendi Universal — the market capitalisation of the group currently being 30% below its breakup value. Universal’s future as a handy source of cash in the event of no breakup is another question.

Vivendi Universal properties include Vivendi Environnement (the water company, which is actually doing better than the rest of the group), Universal Studios, Universal Music Group, Cegetel (a phone company), Canal Plus (pay TV), Houghton Mifflin (educational publishing) — and Vizzavi (an Internet portal joint venture with Vodafone), which has recently been valued at … zero.

5 thoughts on “Vivendi Universal meltdown

  1. Rumour is the Bronfman family, who sold the music bit into the company, wants back in… As Edgar Bronfman is a prize idiot, this wouldn’t be good news for U Music.

  2. Oh, I think I’d cackle with glee at every possible bad thing that could ever happen to Universal :-)

    The music and film interests are going great guns; I hope a breakup doesn’t occur, so that every penny gets sucked out of them by the rest of the sprawling mess.

    I look forward to Universal Music having a similar industry power, presence and influence as FMR. A company with a truly great future behind it.

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