In 1994 Jean-Marie Messier, a French businessman, had a dream. He would transform a 150-year-old French water company into one of the world's leading media empires. Over the next eight years he spent $100 billion building Vivendi Universal.
By 2002 Vivendi Universal straddled the Atlantic. Its interests included music, publishing, telecoms, TV, cinema, theme parks, water supply, video games, commuter trains, the Internet and waste management. But as quickly as the empire rose, it came crashing down, and Messier finally fell in July 2002 in a boardroom coup sanctioned by the financial markets that once worshipped him.