Bronfman bows out of Vivendi Universal

In the second high-profile executive exit in as many days, Edgar Bronfman Jr. has resigned from his post as executive vice chairman at Vivendi Universal SA, the company announced Thursday.

In a letter to the employees of Vivendi Universal that was included in the company’s statement, Bronfman said he felt the integration of Vivendi and Universal had progressed to the point where he could “pursue other challenges.”

Bronfman will remain a vice-chairman on the company’s board of directors and added that as a “representative of my father’s family (the company’s largest shareholder), we have no plan to sell Vivendi Universal shares in 2002.”

Bronfman’s departure comes one day after AOL Time Warner Inc. CEO Gerald Levin announced that he would retire from the company in May after almost 30 years with Time Warner.

Vivendi Universal Chairman and CEO Jean-Marie Messier credited Bronfman with “creating the world’s premier music company,” Universal Music Group Inc., which is on the verge of launching its new digital music subscription service, Pressplay, a company it formed with Sony Music Entertainment Inc.

Pressplay was initially set to be launched by the end of this year, but has yet to be unveiled. It will be competing with MusicNet, the child of AOL Time Warner Inc., Bertelsmann AG, EMI Group PLC and RealNetworks Inc., which went live on Tuesday with the launch of RealNetworks’ RealOne content subscription channel.

Vivendi SA and Seagram Co. Ltd. – the liquor company founded by the Bronfman family and owner of Universal – merged late last year in a deal valued at US$34 billion. Bronfman, formally the CEO of Seagram, had been with the company for almost 20 years.

Vivendi Universal, in Paris, can be reached at