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Edgar Bronfman Jr. to appeal French conviction in Vivendi insider-trading case

January 21, 2011 | 12:12 pm

Edgar Bronfman Jr Edgar Bronfman Jr., chairman of Warner Music Group, on Friday said he would appeal an insider trading conviction by a Paris trial court handed down earlier in the day.

The French court said Bronfman used insider information to trade shares in the company while he was vice chairman of Vivendi in 2002, netting $12.8 million. 

It also convicted former Vivendi Chairman Jean-Marie Messier for lying to investors about Vivendi's finances and misusing company funds in arranging a severance package worth 20 million Euro. Messier later gave up the severance package.

The court slapped Bronfman with a 5-million-euro fine, roughly $6.7 million, and a suspended 15-month prison sentence. Messier received a three-year suspended sentence.

"I will appeal today's decision to the Paris Court of Appeal," Bronfman said in a statement. "As I have consistently stated, my trades were proper." 

The case has shadowed Bronfman for years, and his vow to appeal probably ensures that the case will drag on for several more.

[Updated 12:18 PM: Vivendi declined to comment.]

A similar case brought in the U.S. against Vivendi and two top executives led to a split verdict last January. A jury in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan found that the company had misled investors about its finances before a $46-billion merger with Seagram Co. and Canal Plus in 2000. But the jury said the executives, Messier and Vivendi's chief financial officer at the time, were not personally liable. Bronfman was not named in that case.

Messier could not immediately be reached for comment.

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Warner Music Group Chairman Edgar Bronfman, Jr. Credit: Matthew Cavanaugh / EPA