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MESSIER TALKS TO THE TROOPS

Vivendi CEO Reassures Universal Employees With Three-Hour Speech, Q&A, Tender Kisses
In a three-hour, closed-door meeting with Universal employees yesterday (7/10), 43-year-old Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Marie Messier assured those in attendance—as he had told Daily Variety earlier— that the new Vivendi Universal venture would "not be a subsidiary of a French company." This according to company sources quoted in a Reuters story.

The meeting, held at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, was also carried by a live Internet feed to others around the globe. However, the media was barred from the session.

Messier told Variety that he and Canal Plus Chairman Pierre Lescure will split their time evenly between France and the United States, but Messier stressed that Universal President Ron Meyer and Studio Chief Stacy Snider would remain in place. Describing the Seagram acquisition as a "marketing-driven merger, not a cost-saving merger," Messier admitted that the company would seek to achieve some $400 million in cost savings but would lose no Hollywood jobs to do so.

Messier remained unconcerned with the 20 percent drop in Vivendi's share price since the merger was announced last month. Expressing his confidence that "investors will come back," Messier added that the "fundamental value" of Vivendi remained intact.

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