• France's news in English

Vivendi ordered to pay US damages

AFP · 26 Jun 2012, 09:40

Published: 26 Jun 2012 09:40 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A US jury Monday said French media giant Vivendi was liable for damages to American-based Liberty Media in a lawsuit accusing the French firm of making misleading statements about its finances.

Vivendi said in a statement it would appeal the verdict, which said it could be liable to pay up to $956 million (€765 million) to the US firm headed by magnate John Malone. The damages will be awarded at a later phase in the case.

A Liberty Media statement said the case stemmed from "breach of contract and fraud" by Vivendi and that damages could be awarded after post-trial proceedings.

"Although Liberty expects the defendants to ask the court to set aside the verdict during this process, Liberty is confident that the court will deny that request and that the jury's decision will stand," Liberty said.

Vivendi said it "strongly disagrees with the decision" and "believes that there are many grounds for appeal."

Liberty Media, which owns a variety of assets including the Starz movie channel and has stakes in SiriusXM radio, Time Warner and Viacom, ended up as a Vivendi shareholder in 2001 because of its interest in USA Networks, a broadcaster bought by the French firm.

Liberty sued in 2003, contending the shares used in the acquisition were overvalued and inflated because of fraudulent statements by Vivendi about its financial conditions.

The deal came when Vivendi was undergoing a massive expansion led by its flamboyant chief Jean-Marie Messier, who was ousted in 2002.  

It is the latest in a long litigation battle with Vivendi in the US courts.  

In 2010, a jury said Vivendi recklessly misled investors about the company's finances, opening the door to a potential multibillion dollar payout to shareholders. But that case remains pending on appeal.

Messier was cleared in that case with his chief financial officer Guillaume Hannezo by the jury.

But a French criminal court in 2011 handed Messier a three-year suspended jail term over a fraud scandal that nearly brought down the group in 2002.

Messier received the suspended term on charges including embezzlement after he awarded himself a multimillion dollar payoff, without board approval, when he left the group in 2002.

Vivendi and Messier had been accused of making false statements about company finances between 2000 and 2002, before a collapse of the group's share price in the lawsuit charging "recklessly misleading communication."

Story continues below…

Liberty Media in 2001 accepted 37 million Vivendi shares priced at 50 dollars in a deal which made the US firm the second largest shareholder in Vivendi.

The transaction was finalized in May 2002, days after Moody's downgraded Vivendi's credit rating because of its hefty debt.

Vivendi shares lost 80 percent of their value in 2002.

Vivendi now controls video game giant Activision Blizzard, Universal Music Group, French telecom operator SFR and entertainment firm Canal Plus along with other operations around the world.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Homeless man does a runner from France's top restaurants
Photo: Prayitno/Flickr

"A man's gotta eat," he told police, after racking up gigantic bills in some of France's plushest restaurants.

Underwater museum hopes to make a splash in Marseille
A similar underwater museum piece by Jason deCaires Taylor. Photo: julie rohloff/Flickr

Don't forget your scuba gear...

Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Photo: Jacme/Flickr

Move over Paris...

And France's top chef of the year is... 'Monsieur Idiot'
Alexandre Couillon might have an unfortunate name, but he can sure cook!. Photo: AFP

Look beyond the name. He's the man who turned his family's humble "moules frites" joint into one of France's best seafood restaurants.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
Want to drive a scooter around Paris? Here's what you need to know
jobs available