Biz Briefs

Jan 5, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Vivendi Universal and deposed Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Messier last week settled fraud charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission, ending an 18-month probe by the agency and resolving a months-long battle between the company and its former leader over a severance package now valued at $25 million. The value of the package in U.S. dollars has risen as the dollar/euro exchange rate has shifted. As part of the settlement, reached before a Dec. 30, 2003, SEC deadline that could have triggered civil charges against both Mr. Messier and the company, Paris-based Vivendi agreed to pay $50 million in civil penalties, which will go into a fund to be distributed to certain Vivendi shareholders per terms established by the SEC. Meanwhile, Mr. Messier agreed to give up on a claim to a severance deal that has been at the center of a heated battle between the former executive and his former employer and to pay $1 million in civil penalties and $1 in disgorgement. Former Vivendi Chief Financial Officer Guillaume Hannezo also settled fraud charges with the SEC, agreeing to pay $1 million in disgorgement and civil penalties.
Novack Retiring From Time Warner
Time Warner Vice Chairman Kenneth Novack said last week he was retiring at the end of 2003, continuing the exodus of former America Online executives following the flawed merger of the online giant and the media titan. Though Mr. Novack, 62, was to resign his post as vice chairman, he was scheduled to remain an outside director of the company. He planned to join the Boston law firm of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo as senior counsel.