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BT and Vivendi declare a truce of sorts

BT and Vivendi have called a truce after the companies fell out over an alleged breach of shareholder agreement in their joint French telco Cegetel.
Written by Suzanna Kerridge, Contributor

BT and Vivendi have called a truce after the companies fell out over an alleged breach of shareholder agreement in their joint French telco Cegetel.

Peter Bonfield, CEO at BT, and Jean-Marie Messier, CEO at Vivendi, met in London yesterday to discuss BT's future participation in Cegetel. Tensions originally arose after Vivendi joined forces with BT's rival Vodafone to create internet portal Vizzavi. Messier said earlier in the week that he wanted to clarify whether BT wanted to continue its partnership in Cegetel. But BT said it was "committed to the success of the business and its future prosperity." BT claimed Vivendi's participation in Vizzavi was a breach of commitment and took the case to the International Chamber of Commerce tribunal. Last Friday the tribunal ruled in Vivendi's favour but chastised the company for certain decisions it had taken allowing BT to now claim for damages. The Tribunal said the acquisition of 50 per cent of Mannesmann's shares in Cegetel by Vivendi was contrary to the Shareholders Agreement and ordered the company not to carry out the acquisition. It also ruled that the transfer of assets from Cegetel to Vizzavi violated BT's fundamental rights. In a statement BT said it will claim substantial damages for the breaches of the Shareholder Agreement and the assets taken out of Cegetel for the benefit of Vivendi. BT estimated it will claim less that £500m.
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