The antitrust authorities of the European Commission granted, Friday, June 9, the green light to the public tender offer (OPA) launched by Vivendi on Lagardère. To get their hands on the parent company Hachette Livre – world number three in publishing and leader in France (Grasset, Fayard, Stock, Le Livre de poche, Les Editions Albert René…), Vincent Bolloré’s group must however separate of its subsidiary Editis, the second largest French publishing group (Plon, 10/18, La Découverte, Nathan or Robert Laffont, etc.), and of the magazine Gala.
This earthquake in publishing – which will confirm Editis’ fifth change of ownership in twenty-one years – will go down in history as one operation at a time. endless for employees, erratic and badly managed by Vivendi, according to the Commission. The initial ambitions of greatness came up against the rigor of Brussels, forcing the Breton businessman to forget his dream of a mega-merger between Hachette Livre and Editis. A look back at a saga that started three years ago.
Act I: Vivendi takes control of Lagardère
At the start of 2020, Nicolas Sarkozy struggles to defend the one he calls “more than his friend, his brother”, Arnaud Lagardère, the boss of the group of the same name, destabilized by the activist fund Amber Capital of Joseph Oughourlian. The latter is campaigning for the dismissal of Mr. Lagardère, whom he accuses of mismanaging his group.
The former President of the Republic offers Vincent Bolloré to take on the role of white knight by taking a stake in Lagardère (which, in addition to Hachette, owns the Relay, Europe 1, The JDD et Paris Match). In July 2020, Vivendi became its largest shareholder, with more than 21% of the capital, alongside Bernard Arnault, the boss of LVMH, who also came to the rescue of the son of Jean-Luc Lagardère.
Although personally indebted to 213 million euros, Arnaud Lagardère still considers himself indestructible, sheltered in his limited partnership, supposed to be an impregnable fortress, because it prevents any takeover bid. But the white knight is transformed into an assailant and, in a beautiful game of lying poker, Vivendi joins forces, in August 2020, with the Amber fund.
Cornered, Arnaud Lagardère agrees to renounce the status of limited partnership in April 2021, in exchange for a virtual doubling of his stake in the capital of Lagardère (to 14%) and a title of CEO of the group for six years . Vivendi can then launch its takeover bid for Lagardère, in September 2021, at a price of 24.10 euros per share.
You have 76.01% .. “”.