Vivendi launches its takeover bid to take control of Lagardère

It is Thursday, April 14, that Vincent Bolloré, at the head of the French group Vivendi, must launch the takeover bid (OPA) to take control of Lagardère.

Vivendi entered the capital of the owner of Europe 1, du Sunday newspaper (JDD) Y paris partythen weakened by the Covid-19 crisis (particularly in its network of stores in train stations and airports) and threatened by a shareholder revolt.

Media heavyweight, owner of Canal+ but also of Editis and Havas, Vivendi knew how to join forces with the activist fund Amber Capital to achieve the transformation of the impregnable citadel of Lagardère into an ordinary public limited company and above all “operable”.

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After leading the battle, Arnaud Lagardère, at the head of the industrial and media empire built by his father, Jean-Luc, who died in 2003, had to decide to host “the Vivendi group and the Bolloré family, a guarantee of stability and support for our culture, our strategy and our long-term integrity”recently wrote to its shareholders.

The latter may, from April 14 to May 20, sell their shares to Vivendi at 25.50 euros per share (including the 50-cent dividend proposed by Lagardère for the 2021 financial year). This draft offer was validated on Tuesday by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), which declared it ” according “.

Today owner of 45% of the shares of Lagardère, the group of Vincent Bolloré, which has a large cash after the sale of Universal, wants at this price to become the majority. But he has also devised a subsidiary offer mechanism, which allows him to acquire the remaining shares at a price of 24.10 euros until December 15, 2023.

Arnaud Lagardère reinforced

Faced with a heavy personal debt, Arnaud Lagardère, who has obtained the right to remain as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) until 2027, has already announced, on the other hand, his intention to contribute his 15.6 million shares (that is, 11% of the capital) to the subsidiary offer and immediately pledge the transmission rights obtained as collateral for new financing. The manager thus paves the way for a sale of his shares, without waiting for the operation to conclude, which remains suspended pending the green light from the European competition authorities.

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The merger between Hachette and Editis, the two publishing leaders in France, would in fact lead to an ultra-dominant position of this new entity in the sector, which Vincent Bolloré himself had acknowledged before the senators, declaring that the marriage “It would not happen without action being taken in France”in particular disposals of publishers.

On the media side, radio Europe 1 is already well anchored in the conservative news channel CNews, with which it shares a number of hosts. However, the official integration of the station will have to obtain the approval of Arcom (ex-CSA).

As for the magazine paris party and weekly The JDDVery influential in the political world, they seem destined to be integrated by Vivendi into the Prisma Media press group, and have seen several leaders dismissed or retired in recent months.

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Vivendi’s eagerness to integrate Lagardère is explained by the will of Vincent Bolloré, who turned 70 on January is April, to cede power to his sons. A transition for which there are still points to be settled but whose contours seem to be taking shape: the Oddo BHF bank thus hopes that the next project of the Bolloré group -with a lot of money after the sale of its African logistics activities for almost 6,000 million euros- or become the majority shareholder of Vivendi, of which it now owns 29.5%. By doing so, Vincent Bolloré would heavily secure his new media empire, before broadcasting it.

Le Monde and AFP

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