Vivendi Verdict Highlights Potential Costs of F-Cubed Lawsuits

Online Exclusive: Congressional Proposal Would Give the Green Light to F-cubed Lawsuits

When Vivendi CEO Jean-Marie Messier bought a beautiful Park Avenue penthouse in New York in 2001, he likely had no idea that the purchase would one day be used as ammunition to attack his company inside a U.S. courtroom.

At trial, the plaintiffs' lawyers painted a portrait of Vivendi's top two officers inside the U.S., Messier and ex-CFO Guillaume Hannezo, who knew about the company's liquidity crisis and tailored the company's accounting figures to falsely show earnings growth. Vivendi disputed these allegations as "simply not true," and blamed the eventual drop in the company's stock price on broader economic factors.

Vivendi will likely appeal the ruling, with hopes of getting an outcome similar in another "F-cubed" case, Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd. (see "F-Cubed Conflict," March 2010).

Eriq Gardner

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