A first step taken. Following an in-depth investigation, the European Commission gave the green light on Friday June 9 to the takeover bid launched by Vivendi in September 2021 on the Lagardère group. It was not won. Brussels feared that the merger operation between Editis and Hachette, initially notified on October 24, 2022, “does not harm competition in (…) book publishing, in particular in the markets for the purchase of copyright for French-language books and the distribution, marketing and sale of French-language books to retailers”. The Commission was also concerned that the operation “does not harm competition in the press magazine sector”.
It is for this reason that authorization is subject to “substantial corrective measures” : the full transfer of “Vivendi’s publishing activities, namely Editis and its entities, including well-known publishers such as Robert Laffont, Nathan, Le Robert and Pocket” as well as the sale of ” people magazine Gala of Vivendi ».
Margrethe Vestager, Denmark’s executive vice-president in charge of competition policy, said on Friday: “Vivendi and Lagardère are leading publishers of French-language books and magazines. We must ensure that (these) markets (…) remain competitive and diverse, in order to foster a plurality of ideas and opinions. The corrective measures proposed by Vivendi will preserve existing competition in these markets, to the benefit of consumers. »
According to the Commission, the assets sold (Editis) “constitute a viable business which would allow a potential purchaser to compete effectively with the merged entity”. Brussels does not comment, for the time being, on the identity of the buyer and warns that “Vivendi can only complete the acquisition of Lagardère after the approval of a suitable acquirer by the Commission”.
In the process, Vivendi declared itself ” confident ” to finalize by “the end of October” the sale of Editis – for which a sale agreement to International Media Invest (IMI) of Daniel Kretinsky, an indirect shareholder of Worldwas signed on April 23 – as well as that of the magazine Galawhich would be the subject of a dozen expressions of interest.
For Yannick Bolloré, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Vivendi, “This merger will respond to our strategic ambition to internationalize our activities and our desire to be a leading global player in culture and entertainment”. He greeted Arnaud Lagardère, CEO of the group, “for the confidence he has never ceased to express in favor of our project”.
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