Vivendi crosses 50% capital line in Lagardère pursuit

By Luke Barras-hill |

14,535,159 shares were tendered to the main arm of the takeover bid.

Vivendi SE has taken control of 55.43% of the share capital in Lagardère SA after acquiring a further 14,535,159 shares in the latter.

The French media, content and communications group now holds 78,228,398 Lagardère shares (representing the same number of voting rights) and 45.85% of the theoretical voting rights in the parent of Lagardère Travel Retail after an initial friendly public tender offer (14 April – 20 May) concluded.

However, this only gives the company controlled by the Bolloré family 22.5%* of the voting rights pending approval of the takeover by the competition authorities.

Vivendi and Lagardère expressed their ‘satisfaction’ with the result of the public tender in respective statements issued today (Wednesday 25 May).

Vivendi has publicly stated its desire for Arnaud Lagardère to remain as Chairman and CEO of Lagardère and rely on the skills of his management team. Source: Lagardère.

FINAL RESULTS OF TENDER DUE IN JUNE

TRBusiness has reached out to Vivendi and Lagardère for comment.

Vivendi swooped for the shares held by former Lagardère shareholder Amber Capital in December, several months after Vivendi made clear its intentions to increase its shareholding.

This lifted Vivendi’s stake in Lagardère to 45.13% (63,693,239 shares) ahead of the former lodging a public tender offer with French market authority Autorité des Marchés financiers (AMF) on 21 February.

In the days before, Vivendi increased the price of its takeover bid to €25.50 per share for those shareholders wishing to dispose of their shares immediately (the 2021 dividend would be deducted).

A total of 10,938,302 shares have been presented to the subsidiary leg of the public tender offer and the holder of such shares will receive an equal number of transfer rights to be exercised at a price of €24.10 until 15 December 2023.

The settlement delivery of the public offering will take place on 7 June, confirms Vivendi.

The public tender offer for the main and subsidiary branches will resume from 27 May and run until 9 June under the same terms and conditions as the initial offer period ahead of the final results being published by AMF on 14 June.

The company has already said it does not intend to apply to delist Lagardère’s shares from Euronext Paris.

After Vivendi, Lagardère’s biggest shareholders are Qatar Holding LLC and Arnaud Lagardère.

Both have indicated they would not sell their shares (around 11% each) while French luxury goods billionaire Bernard Arnault has signalled a sale of 2% of the nearly 10% owned by the family in Lagardère, reports Reuters.

Vivendi, whose stated ambition is to grow its global leadership in the fields of media, content and communications, adds in its statement that the company and Lagardère Group Chairman and CEO Arnaud Lagardère ‘have expressed their desire to preserve the integrity of the Lagardère Group and to give it the means to develop’.

Lagardère said in a statement: “On March 21, the Board of Directors issued a favourable recommendation on the offer, considering it to be friendly and in line with the interests of the Group and its stakeholders, in particular with regard to the intentions expressed by Vivendi SE to retain the Group as a whole, to ensure the continued growth and development of its activities, to preserve and develop the talent and involvement of its employees, and to maintain managerial continuity around Arnaud Lagardère, who will continue to serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.”

Arnaud Lagardère has reaffirmed an ‘unwavering determination’ to build a world leader in travel retail and across other verticals after Vivendi crossed the 50% shareholding threshold.”

‘HISTORIC’ OCCASION

In a rare personal statement issued by Arnaud Lagardère, the Chairman and CEO praised the surpassing of the 50% shareholding threshold.

“This is a historic date for the Lagardère group, for myself and my family,” he said. “I am fully aware of its significance: this is a happy date, full of promises. It is a moment that marks a new Lagardère, stronger, more ambitious, more conquering.

“I am eagerly awaiting the presentation to the European Commission so that I can finally put into action the full potential of the Group that I have the honour of leading, with my friend Pierre Leroy, Jean-Luc Lagardère’s loyal right-hand man, at my side.

“At the end of this public tender offer, I will still hold 11.06% of the capital and I would like to increase this stake depending on market conditions. I am now joining a great French family, which is also a great success story of which our country can be proud. It has enabled our Group to maintain its integrity and its culture, which was established by Jean-Luc Lagardere. Everyone should remember this.

“To all our shareholders, and more particularly to Vincent Bolloré, and to all the women and men who make up the Group and whose talent and commitment honour us, I reaffirm my unwavering determination to contribute at their side to building a world leader in publishing, travel retail and media.”

*Based on the number of theoretical voting rights as of 30 April, not taking into account double voting rights lost due to the shares brought to the principal leg of the public tender offer.

Main image source: Vivendi.

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