Vivendi paves way for Lagardere takeover with Amber stake buy

Vivendi paves way for Lagardere takeover with Amber stake buy

Stock Markets4 minutes ago (Sep 15, 2021 02:28PM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Vivendi is pictured at the main entrance of the entertainment-to-telecoms conglomerate headquarters in Paris, France, April 22, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

By Sarah White and Gwenaelle Barzic

PARIS (Reuters) -Vivendi said on Wednesday it was set to purchase another stake in Paris Match owner Lagardere, paving the way for a full takeover which would extend the influence of its controlling shareholder, Vincent Bollore, over France’s media landscape.

Vivendi (OTC:VIVHY), which already owns 27% of Lagardere, said it had agreed to buy Amber Capital’s 17.9% holding, for 24.10 euros per share or around 610 million euros ($720.3 million) as a whole. It said it would later launch a takeover bid.

The stake sale could take months and requires regulatory authorisations first, including from the European Union, but Vivendi said it would launch an offer at the same price once it had clinched the 45%. It is aiming for December 2022 at the latest.

In France, companies that pass the 30% ownership threshold are obliged to launch a full bid.

Vivendi and its biggest shareholder, billionaire Bollore, already exert influence over Lagardere and its media and publishing assets after Vivendi rose to become Lagardere’s top investor in the past year.

But a full takeover would culminate a tussle over Lagardere that at one point pitted fellow shareholder and luxury goods tycoon Bernard Arnault against Bollore.

The pair had their eye on Lagardere businesses like Sunday newspaper Journal du Dimanche, Paris Match magazine and Europe 1 radio station, which has already built bridges with Bollore’s CNews TV channel, a network that has been topping ratings.

Arnault now has an 11% stake in Lagardere and has cut financial ties with the firm’s heir and chief executive, Arnaud Lagardere, after initially investing in his holding company.

Amber Capital had waged an activist campaign against Lagardere, largely succeeding in the governance overhaul it had sought after the firm this year scrapped an arcane partnership structure that served as a buttress to takeovers.

Other major shareholders that might now want to sell out include the Qatar Investment Authority, which has 11.5%.

A source familiar with Vivendi’s management said the firm would continue to back Arnaud Lagardere as Lagardere’s CEO.

($1 = 0.8469 euro)

Vivendi paves way for Lagardere takeover with Amber stake buy

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