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Jean-Marie Messier

Jean-Marie Messier (born 1957) is a French businessman known for his flamboyance. He gained worldwide notoriety for his fast ascent and fall from power.

With a reputation for deft management and fast thinking, Messier rapidly advanced in the ranks of French government and the corporate world. Beginning in the mid-1990s, he transformed Vivendi from a French utility company into a global media and communications conglomerate worth $51 billion. However, he became disliked by many French people for his perceived "American" attitude.

In 2002, however, Vivendi began to run into trouble, for which Messier was blamed. On March 5, 2002, the company announced a loss of $14 billion - the largest in French corporate history. A little over a year later, on July 3, 2003, Messier was ousted as boss of Vivendi, whose stock soared on the news. His severance indemnities of $20 million were a subject of a protracted dispute with the company. Messier argues that Vivendi's troubles were not of his making, and his defenders point out that the next year, on March 6, 2003, the company announced an even larger a record loss of $25 billion.

Messier has been married since the early 1970s and has five children.