HITS Daily Double
"Though I don't know precisely what lies ahead, I am excited at the prospect of building another business."


Bronfman To Test Other Business Waters
Just one day after AOL Time Warner media giant Gerald Levin announced his retirement from that company, comes word that Vivendi Universal's Edgar Bronfman Jr. will step down from his executive role at the conglom he helped build.

He will, however, retain his seat on the company's board.

The 46-year-old former chief executive of Seagram, the Canadian company France's Vivendi bought last year to create Vivendi Universal, was said to have lost some interest in being the No. 2 exec at the company following years of running the show. Bronfman said he had "no firm plans other than to remain an active and constructive board member," and that his family had no plans to sell shares of the company in 2002, which has a 5.5% stake in Vivendi Universal.

His resignation as executive vice chairman is effective at the end of 1Q 2002, though Bronfman will continue as vice chairman of the board and remain a close adviser to Vivendi Chairman Jean-Marie Messier.

Vivendi did not say if a replacement for Bronfman would be named.

Bronfman had a window on the first anniversary of the merger under his agreement and contract with Vivendi and, according to Messier "has decided that the time has come for him to seek new business opportunities."

The exec led Seagram's transformation into a media company, orchestrating purchases of Dutch music company PolyGram in 1998 and Hollywood's Universal Studios in 1995.

The combined PolyGram-Univeral music companies became the largest music company in the world under his guidance, putting together the team of Doug Morris, Zach Horowitz and Bruce Hack. After the merger with Vivendi, Bronfman continued to oversee the company's music and Internet interests. Even in this downmarket, Universal Music Group remains the market leader, with close to a 30% marketshare.

In a letter to Vivendi employees released Thursday, Bronfman said he shared Messier's vision for the company, adding that his "energy and focus are the necessary ingredients to drive this company forward. The speed and smoothness of our integration, and the performance of our combined enterprise, have been superb—all of which attests to the strategic logic of the merger and the efforts and skill of the entire VU management team.

"Yet for me, at this stage of my life and career, this is the right decision and the right time. Though I don't know precisely what lies ahead, I am excited at the prospect of building another business. I am also eager to spend some time with my family and friends, a precious thing, which I have too often overlooked."