Group of 90 investors seek $1.2 billion in damages from Vivendi

On Tuesday, a group of investors are set to ask a French court to back its $1.2 billion (1 billion euros) claim in damages from Vivendi, alleging that the media giant made false financial statements during a merger deal twenty years ago.

The lawsuit by 90 investors is represented by law firm Soffer Avocats. The lawsuit alleges that at that time top executives from Vivendi had failed to fully disclose the extent of its debt with the group overseeing a $46 billion three-way tie-up with Canal Plus and Seagram Co.

Jean-Marie Messier was then Vivendi’s CEO.

“The investor group contends that Messier and other Vivendi executives presented fake financials to conceal the existence of a severe liquidity crisis at the company,” said a spokesman for the investors’ group said in a written statement.

Vivendi’s lawyer rubbished the claim saying it was groundless and cited a previous ruling by a French criminal court which found that Vivendi executives did not issue false information at that point of time.

“This case has already been judged several times in France, in particular by the criminal judge, who ruled out that Vivendi issued any false information,” said Hervé Pisani, managing partner of Freshfields in Paris.

The case will be heard at Paris’s commercial court from 1300 GMT.

($1 = 0.8435 euros)

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