French billionaires strike deal on new Lagardère structure – WWD
PARIS – French publishing and retail group LagardÃ¨re said on Wednesday it had reached a deal with shareholders to abandon the system of governance that had long given CEO Arnaud LagardÃ¨re full control of the company, defusing a battle between billionaires French Bernard Arnault and Vincent BollorÃ© for the control. of its media assets.
Arnaud LagardÃ¨re has agreed to dissolve the structure, known as a limited partnership with shares, and to replace it with a joint stock company. In exchange, he will receive 10 million new shares, or the equivalent of 7% of the company’s capital after their issue, and will be appointed chairman and chief executive officer for a six-year term.
“The proposed governance structure aims to ensure the continuity of management of the LagardÃ¨re group around the leadership of Arnaud LagardÃ¨re, and the representation of the main shareholders on the board of directors,” said LagardÃ¨re in a press release.
The operation avoids the prospect of dismantling the group, the parent company of the publishing houses grouped together under the Hachette Livre division; a travel retail division and media interests including Europe 1 radio, Le Journal du Dimanche and Paris Match magazine.
LagardÃ¨re fought efforts by activist investor Amber Capital and Vivendi, a media group controlled by BollorÃ©, to gain representation on the board. In order to strengthen his position, he hired Arnault, chairman and CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH MoÃ«t Hennessy Louis Vuitton, to buy shares in LagardÃ¨re last year.
This strategy seemed to backfire on us, as Arnault and BollorÃ© clashed, BollorÃ© apparently interested in acquiring control of Hachette Livre and Europe 1, and Arnault seen circling JDD and Paris Match. LVMH already owns the newspapers Les Echos and Le Parisien.
LagardÃ¨re sold in 2019 most of its press portfolio to Czech Media Invest, including French Elle, Version Femina, Art & DÃ©coration, TÃ©lÃ© 7 Jours, France Dimanche, Ici Paris and Public.
“Any sale of publishing, travel retail or media assets representing a turnover exceeding a threshold fixed for each of these groups of activities, would require the authorization of the board of directors, by a majority of the three fifths of its members, âsaid LagardÃ¨re.
Under the agreement, all major shareholders will be represented on the board. Arnaud LagardÃ¨re and Vivendi will each nominate three directors. Qatar Holding LLC and Amber Capital will each have the right to appoint a director and FinanciÃ¨re Agache, the holding company controlled by Groupe Arnault, will propose an independent director.
Pierre Leroy will be appointed Deputy CEO âwith additional emphasis on operational excellence and cash generation,â said LagardÃ¨re. The proposal has been approved by LagardÃ¨re’s supervisory board and will be submitted to shareholders at the annual general meeting on June 30.
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