Band Mathieu Rosemain
PARIS, July 27 (Reuters) – Vivendi’s main investor, billionaire Vincent Bolloré, is considering the sale of the Editis group’s publishing unit to avoid antitrust obstacles as he seeks to buy the French media group Lagardère LAGA.PA.
The Vivendi-Lagardère combination, under review by European Union antitrust authorities, would create a new publishing giant through the combination of France’s two largest publishing groups, Lagardère’s Hachette and Vivendi’s Editis .
This prospect triggered a wave of criticism from independent publishers in France, including the most famous, Gallimard. Several successful French authors have also left Hachette.
Under the scheme, Bolloré would be sell all of the Editis shares that he would receive after the operation, which would consist ofF a simultaneous distribution of Editis shares to Vivendi shareholders and the listing of Editis on Euronext Bourse de Paris, he said.
Bollore is Vivendi’s controlling shareholder with a 29% stake. The press holding company already owns 57% of Lagardère following a takeover bid for all the shares of the group, which also houses flagship newspapers such as the JDD and Paris Match. Vivendi has said it is ready to pay up to 2 billion euros to acquire all the shares of Lagardère.
But Vivendi’s voting rights in Lagardère are capped at 23% until the merger is approved by competition authorities.
Vivendi announced that its revenue for the first half amounted to 4.87 billion euros, up 5.4% on an underlying basis compared to the same period a year earlier. Growth was driven by the international activities of its Canal Plus pay-TV unit.
Core operating profit for the period rose 31.5% from a year earlier to 412 million euros, he said.
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by David Evans and Paul Simao)
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