Vivendi chairman Jean-Marie Messier has officially denied rumours of a rift with Canal Plus boss Pierre Lescure which he described in a televised interview as 'a storm in a glass of water'.

Messier said he was confident that Lescure would ride out any changes arising from the proposed three-way merger between Vivendi, Canal Plus and Seagram and reiterated that the Canal Plus chairman would be 'the boss of the television and film activities at Vivendi Universal'.

The French and foreign press had picked up last week on a story published by confidential political newsletter La Lettre A, stating that Lescure would resign due to concerns over the role Vivendi would play in the running of Canal Plus following the merger.

Most observers linked the rumours to the recent dismissal by Messier of Alex Berger, a close adviser to Lescure and the head of the group's internet unit CanalNumedia. The move was deemed to signal a hands-on attitude by Messier towards Canal Plus.

Some also underlined an earlier disagreement between Messier and Lescure regarding negotiations with French audiovisual watchdog the CSA, which left the Canal Plus pay-TV channel and its subscriber base outside the three-way merger.

The French stock market remained unflustered by the rumours of Lescure's departure, with most analysts pointing out that disagreements between the two men are nothing new. They agreed that a more pressing issue is the European Commission's final ruling on the merger, expected on October 13.