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Rousselet vacates seat on Canal+ board

PARIS — Andre Rousselet, founding chairman of France’s hugely successful pay TV company Canal Plus, has resigned from the board. He quit his job as chairman in 1995.

Rousselet, 75, said his decision had been prompted by the recent shareholder shuffle that saw Generale des Eaux become Havas’ main shareholder and Havas take a dominant position in Canal Plus. Rousselet opined that the move amounted to Havas “taking control of Canal Plus.”

As chairman of Canal Plus — and before that Havas — Rousselet always favored a system of diverse shareholders with relatively small stakes, guaranteeing him a degree of management autonomy.

In 1995, his successor at Havas, chairman Pierre Dauzier, organized a three-way shareholder pact involving Havas, Generale des Eaux and Societe Generale, which gave the trio effective control of Canal Plus. Rousselet, caught off guard by the move, stormed out of the paybox but kept a seat on the board at the request of his successor, Pierre Lescure.

With Havas now the principal shareholder of Canal Plus and with no love lost between Dauzier and Rousselet, it is widely believed that the Havas boss effectively muscled Rousselet off the board.

Since slamming the door on Canal Plus, Rousselet bought up daily paper InfoMatin, which went belly-up last year. He is now launching a weekly consumer magazine titled Television.

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