Vivendi CEO Jean-Bernard Levy to Leave Company

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LONDON -- Jean-Bernard Levy is leaving his role as CEO of Vivendi, according to a source close to the situation.

The move was confirmed Thursday after a board meeting earlier in the day, and follows a disagreement over strategy between Levy -- who has been CEO for about a decade and also served as chairman of the company's management board since 2005 -- and the entertainment and telecom company's board as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

"Jean-Bernard Levy is stepping down as chairman of the management board following a divergence of views on the strategic development of the group," Vivendi said in a statement.

Jean-Francois Dubos, Vivendi’s general counsel, was appointed as Levy's replacement as chairman of the management board.

The company also proposed a new appointment at telecom firm SFR. It said that Stephane Roussel, currently senior executive vp, human resources of Vivendi, should e appointed chairman and CEO of SFR.

Vivendi includes various telecom businesses, Universal Music Group, a big stake in video game firm Activision Blizzard and French pay TV firm Canal+.

Levy, 57, and other Vivendi top executives met this past weekend to discuss strategy, including the future asset mix of the company and possible sales or spinoffs. The company's stock recently hit a nine-year low after Vivendi said it would report lower profits amid challenges in its telecom business until a return to earnings growth in 2014.

Analysts have said the holding company structure of Vivendi, of which Levy has been a defender, also has hurt its stock market performance.

"The Vivendi supervisory and management boards gathered in Paris this weekend for their annual two-day meeting to work on the group’s strategic orientations," Vivendi had said in a statement Monday. "The outcomes of this meeting are not to be released publicly. Vivendi will communicate on its plans and the necessary evolution of the group as and when appropriate."

Apparently, the disagreements between Levy and supervisory board chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou and other board members came to a head during the weekend meeting.

It wasn't immediately clear who would take over the CEO role.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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