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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Vivendi faces $250m bill from Herb Alpert
Jean-Marie Messier, Chairman and CEO of Vivendi Universal
Mr Messier has been under fire for attacking the system of subsiding French art and music
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By Tim Fawcett
BBC World Business Report

The embattled French media tycoon Jean Marie Messier - already facing calls for his resignation - has received another blow.

Mr Messer's loss-making media empire Vivendi faces a $250m (170m) bill from the jazz legend Herb Alpert after the sale of his music publishing company Rondor.

Trumpeter Herb Alpert had a big money spinner on his hands in the sixties with the Spanish Flea, recorded with his band the Tijuana Brass.

But he stands to make much more from Vivendi out of the sale of Rondor.

Five year deadline

Herb Alpert and his partner Jerry Moss sold Rondor to the Universal Music Group nearly two years ago.

Songs in the Rondor catalogue
Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
Tears in Heaven - Eric Clapton
Money for Nothing - Dire Straits
Thriller - Michael Jackson
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
Respect - Aretha Franklin
My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion

They agreed to take shares in return but negotiated a deal whereby if the price of those shares fell too low, they would get a cash payoff of $250m.

A few months after the sale, Vivendi took over Universal and took on that liability.

Now Vivendi shares have fallen below the trigger price and Mr Alpert and Mr Moss can demand the cash payoff at any time over the next five years.

Vivendi said that as yet it has not received that demand.

Jean Marie Messier has been under fire at home in France for championing American cultural values and attacking the system of subsiding French art and music.

It is not clear how much attention Mr Messier has been paying to this latest news which was revealed in the Vivendi annual report.

He seemed to have other things on his mind on Friday - urging French voters not to back the right wing candidate Jean Marie Le Pen in this weekend's Presidential election.

See also:

29 Apr 02 | Business
Vivendi calls for second vote
22 Apr 02 | Business
Vivendi wages war on two fronts
17 Apr 02 | Business
Fired chief hijacks French TV
05 Mar 02 | Business
Vivendi posts huge loss
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