Back in 2000, Vodafone and Vivendi created what they called a ‘multi-access portal’ that would offer internet services across TVs, PCs and mobile phones. It was named Vizzavi and was chaired by Vivendi’s Jean-Marie Messier for the first couple of years until Chris Gent took over in what was intended to be a ‘rotating’ position shared between the two partners.
But things didn’t work out as planned. Jean-Marie Messier – who’d helped transform Vivendi from a utility company into a media giant – was replaced by the board in 2002. A dramatic reorganisation followed as the French company tried to save money. By the end of 2002, it had sold its Vizzavi stake to Vodafone… and Vodafone had dumped the name. So ended Vizzavi.
In recent days, Jean-Marie Messier has been hitting the headlines again. He’s been in court to answer charges that he’d misled investors when in charge of Vivendi and had also misused company funds.
Today he’s been given a three-year suspended sentence and a €150,000 fine after being found guilty of misappropriating company funds and divulging misleading information. Former Vivendi vice chairman Edgar Bronfman Jr has been given a 15 month suspended sentence and a 5 million euro fine for insider trading. Both men plan to appeal.
[More information: FT.com; ibtimes.com]