Bronfman denies insider info dished out at 2001 Vivendi meeting

By | Published on Tuesday 22 June 2010

Warner Music Group top man Edgar Bronfman Jr last week said that he was surprised when Universal Music Group parent company Vivendi initiated a share sale just after he began exercising his family’s share options in the conglom in 2002, options that he received as part of the French firm’s acquisition of his former entertainment firm Seagram, aka the Universal empire.

As previously reported, Bronfman has been caught up in a criminal court case in France which is mainly focused on Jean-Marie Messier, the former Vivendi chief accused of misleading investors at the start of the last decade as he went about running the conglom into the ground. Bronfman, who was Vivendi’s Vice-Chair at the time, is accused of misusing insider information that meant he exercised his share options at just the right time.

But Bronfman denies he had any such information. A court hearing last week centred on a board meeting the defendant attended in December 2001 where prosecutors say Bronfman would have been exposed to some of the alleged insider information. But he says the meeting focused more or less exclusively on Vivendi’s purchase of the entertainment assets of USA Networks, and nothing much else.

Elsewhere, Bronfman’s lawyers argued that when the former Vivendi board man decided to sell his own shares in the firm, the company’s subsequent share sale hadn’t even been confirmed, and therefore there isn’t a legal case against him for insider dealing, even if there was evidence he had access to insider information, which Bronfman says there isn’t.

As previously reported, Bronfman’s legal team previously tried to have the case against their client, which is really a side show to the main Messier trial, thrown out of court, but said efforts were not successful.