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Saturday, December 9, 2023

Vivendi definitely gets its hands on Lagardère

It’s done. Vivendi announced on Tuesday that it had taken control of Lagardère. In a press release, the group led by Vincent Bolloré specifies that it holds “to date, approximately 60% of the capital” the champion of publishing (with Hachette) and “travel retail” (shops in train stations and airports). Vivendi “can now fully exercise a little more than 50% of the voting rights”specifies the missive.

The announcement was expected, to the extent that Vivendi ticked all the boxes to satisfy the competition authorities, and get the green light from Brussels. Last week, the media group completed the sale of Editis to International Media Invest (IMI), of Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky. This was an imperative, in the eyes of Brussels, which considered that Editis and Hachette would have jointly exercised a monopoly on publishing in France. For similar reasons, Vivendi sold Gala (which belonged to Prisma Media) to the Figaro group, that same Tuesday.

“Internationalization strategy”

Vivendi believes that Lagardère and “its global dimension” register “perfectly in line with its internationalization strategy”. The group led by Vincent Bolloré recalls, in particular, that Lagardère is present “in more than 40 countries” and “75% of its turnover” is carried out outside France. By winning the Hachette nugget, Vivendi is changing dimensions in publishing.

“Lagardère Publishing is the third largest publisher of general public and educational books in the world, number one in France and number two in Great Britain”he emphasizes.

Finally, its numerous boutiques in train stations and airports make Lagardère “a major international trade operator in transport zones”, continues Vivendi. At the same time, the latter also gets its hands on influential media, namely The JDD, Paris Matchand Europe 1.

With this deal, Vivendi sees its turnover increase, on a basis comparable to that of 2022, by 72%, to 16.5 billion euros. It now has 66,000 employees, compared to 38,000 previously.

Threat of a heavy fine

Vivendi remains, however, under threat of an investigation from Brussels, which seeks to find out whether the group did not take control of Lagardère in advance. If found guilty, the deal would not be called into question. But Vivendi could face a heavy fine of up to 10% of its total turnover.