The future of the Lagardère group remains in suspense

Arnaud Lagardère during a press conference, in Paris, March 13, 2019.

Those who hoped for an epilogue to the Lagardère saga, which has seen the big beasts of French capitalism, Vincent Bolloré and Bernard Arnault, clash for almost a year, have been at their expense. Caught between each other, Arnaud Lagardère repeated, during the publication of the annual results, Thursday, February 25, “That no decision [n’était] taken “ on the future of the group. For months, intense discussions have been going on between Vivendi, Lagardère’s largest shareholder, which is eyeing Hachette and Europe 1, and Bernard Arnault, interested in his two press titles, the JDD and Paris Match. The son of Jean-Luc Lagardère, he wants to avoid a dismantling of his group and, incidentally, to keep the orders.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also The destinies of Europe 1, of “Paris Match” and of the “JDD” and the negotiations between Lagardère, Arnault and Bolloré

However, even though he assured that it was not necessary “Anticipate nothing”, nor on “Assignments” nor on “Changes”, he showed himself rather open to a modification of the company’s statute, now governed by a sponsorship, which makes it unbreakable. “A change in sponsorship has always been an option. But for that there would have to be a peaceful climate between the shareholders. Maybe we are going towards that ”, he said. By “Peaceful climate”, Arnaud Lagardère intends not to have shareholders on his supervisory board who are tearing each other apart or who are putting sticks in the wheels “Management” – namely the one he embodies today. An outing that is not fortuitous. According to our information, the end of the sponsorship is an idea promoted by Vincent Bolloré, who could, in exchange, sign a check for 200 million euros to the heir. At this stage, “All the scenarios are on the table”, including the separate sale of certain media, underlines a source familiar with the matter.

Hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, Lagardère had a difficult year 2020, showing a loss of 660 million euros for a turnover down 38%, to 4.4 billion euros

The moment of truth is approaching. The general assembly will be held on June 14, whereas it traditionally took place in the first days of May. Did the parties want to allow themselves a few extra weeks to find some kind of Yalta? Otherwise, Vincent Bolloré could take advantage of the annual meeting of shareholders to place his directors on the supervisory board.

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