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Arnaud Lagardère paves the way for a sale of his shares

Arnaud Lagardère during his hearing before the commission of inquiry into media concentration in the Senate, in Paris, on February 17, 2022.

On February 14, everything seemed clear in the mind of Arnaud Lagardère. No, he would never sell his stake in the group created by his father, Jean-Luc Lagardère. Questioned in the Senate within the framework of the commission on the concentration of the media, the heir thus repeated that he would not participate in the takeover bid launched by Vivendi on the group which owns Hachette, Paris Match, Europe 1, The JDD or Relay shops. “The launch of the takeover bid is followed by a period of one month during which the shareholders decide whether or not to tender their shares. As far as I’m concerned, I won’t bring”he affirmed under oath to the senators.

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A month later, the leader’s intentions seem less clear. In Lagardère’s response document to Vivendi’s takeover bid, made public on March 22, Jean-Luc Lagardère’s son confirmed that he would not participate in “main offer” made by Vivendi. In other words, the sexagenarian will not sell his 11% stake at the price of 25.50 euros per share offered by the group of Vincent Bolloré. To be triggered, this operation is still awaiting the opinion of the Financial Markets Authority.

On the other hand, Arnaud Lagardère has caused trouble by saying he is ready to bring 10 million of the 15.6 million titles he owns to “the subsidiary offer”. This complex mechanism allows Lagardère shareholders not to participate in the takeover bid immediately, but to wait until the end of 2023 to decide whether or not to sell their shares. By declaring itself immediately, Vivendi offers them a floor price of 24.10 euros.

A subsidiary offer

This trick was devised by Vincent Bolloré’s group, which wanted to launch its takeover offer even before obtaining the approval of the European competition authorities. In fact, the Lagardère group will certainly not have the same face after obtaining this authorization. The OPA supposes marrying Hachette and Editis, two flagships of publishing. This will force Vivendi to proceed with disposals. What scope will Lagardère have in the end? Will the stock be worth more or less than today? To avoid harming shareholders who prefer to wait to see how Brussels will react, Vivendi has resolved to offer them a guarantee, with no obligation to sell their shares.

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But in wanting to benefit from this option, Arnaud Lagardère, who did not respond to requests from the World, opens the way to its disengagement. The potential sale of 7.16% of the capital he owns, already mentioned by BFM Business the week of March 21, created a stir, forcing an internal update. According to our information, it was thus explained that the son of Jean-Luc Lagardère participated in this offer only to meet the needs of Vivendi. In the event that the latter does not reach 50% of the capital of Lagardère, he would in fact have the possibility of drawing on this subsidiary offer, and therefore on the option of Arnaud Lagardère. Except that this hypothesis is highly improbable: Vivendi already owns 45% of the capital of Lagardère, it should easily obtain the 5% that it lacks from the launch of its takeover bid.

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