Busy Times for Vivendi

Vivendi Universal Games has announced a restructuring that will mean the loss of 350 jobs.

Blizzard, VUG’s key games developer, is said to not be affected, which is just as well as the studio’s forthcoming Worlds of Warcraft MMORPG (repeat after me: massively multiplayer online role-playing game) has many gamers in an absolute froth of goblin-smashing anticipation. If WoW doesn’t revive the parent company’s flagging fortunes, then nothing will.

If you think that’s bad, it gets Messier.

The former Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Marie Messier was arrested on Monday for his part in a massive share buyback scheme. It’s alleged that the company spent at least €1 billion (UK£1.5 billion) propping up its share price in 2001, buying back 21 million shares in September 2001, just 15 days before publishing its financial results.

Messier has been taken into custody in Paris and is expected to cool his heels there for a couple of days before being charged.

Messier’s woes began around the time he was booted out of Vivendi in July 2002 after the billions of euros of acquisitions he made nearly destroyed the company.

Vivendi Universal

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?