Vivendi brings in new PR leader, but holds its fire on commsstrategy

NEW YORK: Vivendi Universal brought in fresh PR leadership alongside its new CEO, but will not be announcing any changes in PR staffing or strategy until September.

NEW YORK: Vivendi Universal brought in fresh PR leadership alongside its new CEO, but will not be announcing any changes in PR staffing or strategy until September.

The company has been the target of recent criticism for its communications with investors and employees.

In July, Vivendi's board of directors accepted the resignation of former chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Messier. Following that, Catherine Gros, formerly EVP of public relations, left her position.

New chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou, who was vice chairman of the board of management at Aventis, brought in Michel Bourgeois as head of PR and corporate communications. The France-based Bourgeois was previously director of corporate communications at Aventis.

Vivendi has been analyzing its business units and plans to announce its outline for the future at the end of September. Anita Larsen, VP of corporate communications (North America) said that until that time there will be no information on staffing or strategy for either the French or New York PR operations.

Meanwhile, Fourtou and his team are facing criticism of his tactics in communicating with investors and employees. The New York Times reported that in spite of his commitment to improvement, Fourtou has failed to provide adequate information on the company's performance.

"Management has been doing the best job they can do in terms of communicating with investors, media, and employees, Larsen said. "Obviously, we are facing so much rumor and speculation right now that it's difficult to comment on a routine basis."

Vivendi has retained Kekst & Company since prior to the company's formation in 2000, following a merger of Vivendi, The Seagram Company, and Canal+.

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