Just as Vivendi Universal chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou finds himself sitting pretty atop several substantial offers for the company's entertainment assets, he's also got an old familiar thorn poking him in the side.

Former Vivendi chief Jean-Marie Messier has been awarded upwards of Euros 20m in severance pay by a New York arbitration court .

The decision by the court was delivered on Friday June 27 while Vivendi released a statement today saying, "After reviewing the tribunal findings, Vivendi Universal intends to challenge this decision through all available legal actions, both in France and in the United States. "

Since Messier was ousted last summer, the subject of his parting package has been a hot issue, both for shareholders who blame Messier for their stocks' nosedive, and for Fourtou who publicly stated that Messier wouldn't see a centime - and would even be asked to reimburse Vivendi Universal his July 2002 salary which was apparently paid to him in error.

An appeal will be examined tomorrow when Fourtou meets with his board of directors in Paris to review the VUE offers.