Vivendi eyes Lagardère takeover after invitation to increase stake in Group

By Luke Barras-hill |

Lagardère Travel Retail’s Aelia Duty Free fascia at London Luton Airport.

Lagardère SA shares on Euronext Paris soared today (16 Sep) following yesterday’s announcement from Vivendi that it intends to acquire 17.93% of the shareholding of Lagardère Group’s major shareholder Amber Capital.

Media, content and communications group Vivendi, which already owns 26.7% of Lagardère SCA, has offered €24.10/$28.36 per share for the 25,305,448 shares held by Amber Capital, equating to around €610 million.

Should the acquisition gain the required regulatory approvals and complete by 15 December, Vivendi would hold 45.1% of the share capital and 36.1% of the voting rights of Lagardère.

MANDATORY OFFER COULD FOLLOW

Vivendi would exceed the 30% threshold of share capital or voting rights permitting under French market law to launch a mandatory public offering for the parent company of Lagardère Travel Retail.

The proposal, filed with the French market authority (Autorité des Marchés financiers), would be at the same price for the existing Lagardère shares not currently owned by Vivendi.

Shares leaped by 20% to €23.56 at the start of trade today (16 Sep), peaking at €23.9 amid fluctuations during mid-morning business before slowly waning. At the time of writing, share growth had dwindled to €23.3. Source: Euronext.

Vivendi confirms that the stake agreement does not affect Lagardère’s transformation into a joint-stock company.

In its own statement, Lagardère said it was ‘delighted’ with the ‘investment project’ as a result of Vivendi’s latest share acquisition.

The Paris-headquartered travel retailer says the project ‘demonstrates Vivendi’s confidence in the relevance of Lagardère’s strategic model’, its complementary activities and operational efficiency.

“It confirms the respect of the integrity of the Lagardère group and the support given to its management,” the statement added.

“Lagardère’s Board of Directors will be invited, at the appropriate time, to give its reasoned opinion on the proposed public offer that will be launched if Vivendi completes this acquisition, in accordance with stock market regulations.”

The announcement continues an interesting month for Lagardère after Financière Agache, a subsidiary owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy boss Bernard Arnault, exercised its option to sell its entire stake in Lagardère Capital in exchange for Lagardère SA shares held by Lagardère Capital.

In doing so, Arnault has disposed of his investment in Arnaud Lagardère’s holding company (Lagardère Capital & Management).

The Amber Capital/Vivendi announcement also comes weeks after Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com and investment firm JIC snared a minority stake in Lagardère Travel Retail Asia.

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