US News Qatar puts pressure on Arnaud Lagardère

15:00  23 september  2020
15:00  23 september  2020 Source:   liberation.fr

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Arnaud Lagardère, en mai 2018 à Paris. © ERIC PIERMONT Arnaud Lagardère, in May 2018 in Paris. On the eve of an important legal deadline, the emirate says it supports Vivendi and Amber Capital's request, at war with the manager of Lagardère, to be represented on the supervisory board.

The event is extremely rare: the Qatar sovereign wealth fund, usually silent, is expressed publicly. In a statement released Tuesday evening, Qatar Holding LLC, one of the offshoots of Qatar Investment Authority (the fund in question), said it was considering asking to be represented on the supervisory board of the Lagardère group, of which it is one of the large shareholders with 13% of the capital as of December 31, 2019.

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Above all, it supports the claim of two other large shareholders at war with Arnaud Lagardère , the Vivendi group of Vincent Bolloré (23.5% of the capital) and the Amber Capital fund (20 %), who also want to join the supervisory board. Where the strategy of the parent company of Hachette, Relay, , Europe 1 and Paris-Match is decided. There, too, where the position of manager of Arnaud Lagardère can be called into question .

Qatar Holding "considers it legitimate for all the significant shareholders to be equitably represented so as to find a consensus on the future and the strategy of the Company. Such a consensus will be likely to promote the creation of values ​​for all the shareholders of Lagardère SCA ", the emirate said in its press release. And to add: "As a long-term investor who remains committed to the Company's side, Qatar Holding confirms that it reserves the right to be represented on the Supervisory Board given its status as a reference shareholder of the Company. . "

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Surprise reinforcement for Vivendi and Amber

This is an unexpected reinforcement for Vivendi and Amber, Qatar having been an ally of Arnaud Lagardère for many years. By supporting their demand, he puts pressure on the boss of the Lagardère group. On August 31, the latter refused, with the supervisory board in his hand, to bring in the four representatives requested by his two opponents. He only left the door open to the candidacy of Virginie Banet, pushed by Bolloré. Insufficient for the latter and for Amber, who took to the Paris commercial court . A hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Qatar's announcement does not come by chance.

Contacted by Libé, a source close to Arnaud Lagardère tries to put on a good face: "Management welcomes QIA's request for representation on the board. It makes sense given the ancient history and the quality of the relationship between Arnaud Lagardère and Qatar since more recent shareholders have made this request. It will be studied by the competent bodies with a view to presentation at the next general meeting of shareholders, next spring. "

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Attempted putsch

Qatar's speech is a new twist in the Lagardère affair, already rich in tasty episodes. Originally, Arnaud Lagardère, financially weakened in a personal capacity , only had to face fierce criticism from Amber Capital on its economic results, its strategic choices and its erratic management. To counter the fund’s coup attempt at the last general meeting, he joined forces with Vincent Bolloré . But the Breton billionaire, whose creeping rise in the group's capital worried the management, changed sides, to put himself alongside Amber , when Arnaud Lagardère had brought in Bernard Arnault , the big boss of LVMH, within his personal holding company to protect himself from a possible attack by Bolloré.

In this open and intestine battle of French capitalism, Qatar has all the appearances of an arbiter. On the supervisory board he already has a "friend", Jamal Benomar - although the businessman is officially presented as an independent director. The emirate's intervention also questions the role played by

Nicolas Sarkozy in the affair. The former head of state was appointed to the group's board this year, at the instigation of Arnaud Lagardère. Close to the reigning family in Qatar, his mission was to preserve Doha's confidence in the boss of Lagardère. Did he fail in this task? Or did he betray his “brother” to side with his friend Vincent Bolloré, on the yacht of which he had celebrated his presidential election in 2007?

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