March 5, 2013 / 5:33 PM / 6 years ago

Vivendi wins dismissal of GAMCO fraud suit

Former Vivendi head Jean-Marie Messier arrives for the opening ceremony of the 64th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Jean-Paul Pelissier

PARIS (Reuters) - Vivendi (VIV.PA) said a New York court had dismissed securities fraud claims by GAMCO Investors related to the 2001-2002 period when the group verged on bankruptcy under former chief executive Jean-Marie Messier.

GAMCO Investors is a group of shareholders that pursued a separate legal case against Vivendi and did not join a class-action lawsuit that Vivendi lost in 2010.

The class action and the GAMCO lawsuits allege that Messier and other Vivendi executives hid the extent of the group’s financial problems in 2001 and 2002 and misled investors about its real liquidity position

Although the two cases are not related, Herve Pisani, a lawyer for the French group, said Vivendi could use similar arguments that the court validated in the GAMCO case to fight individual shareholder requests for damages in the ongoing class-action claims process.

Vivendi intends to appeal the class action, but cannot do so until the judge officially validates the jury verdict, a step that was delayed by the changing of judges, added Pisani.

“The Federal Court dismissed GAMCO’s claims as a whole on March 1, determining that GAMCO did not rely on the integrity of the market price in making their purchases of Vivendi stock and that they would have made those purchases notwithstanding the existence of an alleged liquidity risk,” Vivendi said in a statement.

Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by James Regan and Helen Massy-Beresford

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