Vivendi, the parent company of Canal Plus and Universal Music Group (UMG), is planning to acquire an additional 17.93% stake in Lagardere, the French media, publishing and travel retail conglomerate, from one of its leading shareholder Amber Capital.
The move comes as Vivendi is getting ready to list UMG, its biggest money-making asset and the world’s largest music company, at the Amsterdam stock exchange on Sept. 21.
Vivendi, which owned a 29-percent stake prior to the pending deal, first entered into Lagardere’s capital with a 10.6% stake in April 2020, when the company’s president Arnaud Lagardère, who inherited the illustrious banner from his father, Jean-Luc Lagardère, clashed with Amber Capital and was threatened to be pushed aside. The status of the company was recently changed to “société anonyme,” and Arnaud Lagardere obtained an additional 7-percent stake (on top of the 7% he already had), as well as seats on the board and a five-year contract as CEO, according to the Financial Times.
With Amber Capital’s stake, Vivendi will own 45.1% of Lagardere’s share capital and 36.1% of the voting rights. Amber Capital has accepted Vivendi’s offer to pay €24.10 ($28.3) per share for its 25,305,448 shares.
If approved by regulatory authorities, the transaction would place Vivendi above the 30% share capital and voting right thresholds in Lagardere. As such, Vivendi will have to make a takeover bid at the same price for the remaining stake in Lagardère. Other shareholders in Lagardere include Arnaud Lagardere, as well as Qatar Holding and Financière Agache, the holding of LVMH president Bernard Arnault. News of the pending deal boosted Lagardere’s stock price by 20%.
Vivendi, which is run by French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, said that if the transaction isn’t approved by the European Commission and the French broadcasting authorities (CSA) by Dec. 15, 2022, “the acquisition will have to be completed at the same price by a third party in place of Vivendi.”
The banner comprises French radio station Europe 1, magazines such as Journal du Dimanche, Paris Match and the leading publishing house Hachette. Lagardère’s annual revenues reached €4.4 billion in 2020.
Lagardère Studios, the group’s production and distribution banner made of 27 companies including Spain’s Boomerang, was recently acquired by Mediawan.
Earlier this year, Vivendi also finalized its acquisition of Prisma Media, a leading publishing group in France whose best-known magazine brands include Femme Actuelle, GEO, as well as Capital, Gala and Télé-Loisirs.