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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 18:58 GMT 19:58 UK
Vivendi appoints new boss
Jean-Rene Fourtou
Mr Fourtou is confident he can solve the crisis
Troubled media giant Vivendi has a new chief executive - Jean-Rene Fourtou of the pharmaceutical giant Aventis.

He replaces Jean-Marie Messier who was formally removed from his post at a Vivendi board meeting on Wednesday evening.


It's an exaggeration to say that the accounts weren't sincere

Michel Prada
stock market regulator
Mr Fourtou said he had a lot of work to do to solve the company's short-term crisis.

"I am quite confident that we are going to solve it," he said.

Vivendi's share price has fallen dramatically since a report this week that it had tried to massage its accounts to add 1.5bn euros (1bn; $1.47bn) to its profits.

Investors took fright and the company's shares fell 25% on Tuesday and a further 22% on Wednesday.

'No solvency crisis'

Vivendi has denied any wrongdoing and has won the public backing senior French figures.

Vivendi empire
Cegetel Telecom
Water services
Vizzavi internet portal
Canal Plus
Universal Music group
Universal studios

France's chief stock market regulator told French radio that he had no reason to think that Vivendi risked bankruptcy and he played down concerns about the company's accounting practices.

"It's an exaggeration to say that the accounts weren't sincere," said Michel Prada, chairman of the Commission des Operations de Bourse.

Michel Pebereau, chief executive of French bank BNP-Paribas, one of Vivendi's leading creditors, said there was no solvency crisis at the company.

Tackling debts

After Wednesday's board meeting the company said it expected a preliminary review of its finance and strategy to be ready within three months.

Vivendi artists
Bon Jovi
Boyzone
Elton John
Bob Marley
James Brown
Luciano Pavarotti
Shaggy

And it said it would make transparency and its short-term cash problem a priority.

Another priority is likely be tackling the firm's heavy debts - accumulated as Mr Messier sought to transform the utilities firm into a media and entertainment giant to rival the likes of AOL Time Warner.

The market has been awash with rumours that Vivendi will be broken up.

Its Italian pay-TV business, Telepiu, is already set to be sold to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The American media magnate is reported to have put extra pressure on Vivendi by cutting his cash offer by a third.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Vivendi boss Jean-Rene Fourtou
"I have now a lot of work to solve the short-term crisis"
The BBC's Jon Sopel
"His empire crumbling around him"
The BBC's Darshini David
"Bigger isn't necessarily better"
Jo Johnson, FT Paris correspondent
"Vivendi has several businesses which are extremely sensitive politically"
See also:

02 Jul 02 | Business
02 Jul 02 | Business
02 Jul 02 | Business
02 Jul 02 | Business
26 Jun 02 | Business
25 Jun 02 | Business
24 Jun 02 | Business
24 Jun 02 | Business
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