Lagardere boss gets seven-month reprieve over possible board reshuffle

Mathieu Rosemain
·2-min read
Arnaud Lagardere, the head of French media group Lagardere, attends the group's shareholders meeting in Paris
Arnaud Lagardere, the head of French media group Lagardere, attends the group's shareholders meeting in Paris

By Mathieu Rosemain

PARIS (Reuters) - Lagardere's <LAGA.PA> chief has won a seven-month delay over a possible board reshuffle at the Paris Match publisher after a French court said there was no need for an early shareholder meeting.

The court's decision is a win for Arnaud Lagardere, head of the media conglomerate, which has become the target of a proxy battle between some of France's top businessmen after Lagardere's managers sought to fend off a campaign by activist investor Amber Capital to shake up the company's governance.

New investors came on board, including Vincent Bollore, the billionaire who controls media group Vivendi <VIV.PA>, and LVMH's chief and France's richest man, Bernard Arnault.

The court decision followed a request for an early shareholder meeting by Lagardere's two top investors, Vivendi and Amber Capital, which want board representation and a management shake up.

The ruling effectively gives Arnaud Lagardere about seven months to work out a possible agreement between his rivals and allies since the company's regular annual shareholder meeting is not scheduled until May 2021.

Vivendi said it would appeal the decision. Lagardere and Amber declined to comment.

Vivendi, with a 27% stake in Lagardere, teamed up with Amber after Arnault's surprise move to buy 27% of Arnaud Lagardere's family holding.

The holding effectively controls the group thanks to a limited partnership structure, even with a minority stake. Arnault and Arnaud Lagardere now jointly own 15% of the group.

In its decision, the French commercial court said it rejected the request filed by Vivendi and Amber because the two groups were only following their own interests. It also said that Lagardere had regularly followed legal procedures.

"The plaintiffs do not demonstrate with the required evidence that they are pursuing a goal other than that of their own interests," the court said.

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Editing by David Goodman and Jane Merriman)