It is done. Despite the opposition movement of employees in Europe 1 against the arrival of Vincent Bolloré, the general meeting of shareholders of Lagardère, Hachette’s parent company, Paris Match and Europe 1, on Wednesday June 30 the transformation of the group into a public limited company, putting an end to the absolute power of the general manager Arnaud Lagardère, who becomes CEO. All the appointments to the board of directors were approved by a very large majority, in particular that of the representative of Vivendi (the chairman of the management board Arnaud de Puyfontaine) and of the two other members proposed by the French media giant, Lagardère’s largest shareholder and controlled by Vincent Bolloré.
The Breton magnate is “an asset and not a threat”, said Arnaud Lagardère, who introduced “without nostalgia” the general assembly aimed at “turn a page” of the group inherited from his father, after having scrambled for a long time with the British fund Amber Capital, then tackled for a year between Vincent Bolloré and the boss of LVMH Bernard Arnault, who also became a shareholder in 2020. “I would tend to say optimistically and positively that things will not change, because the management team is still there”, assured Arnaud Lagardère, who recovers some 7% of the shares of his company in compensation for the loss of his status.
Now under the control of a board of directors within which he can appoint only three members out of 11 (including two employee representatives), the manager has assured to have “initiated a number of structural efforts at all levels” to face the Covid-19 crisis, whether in publishing activities, distribution in stations and airports (in particular Relay shops), the media, or the group’s central costs. But “in terms of overall strategy, we haven’t changed it. The idea is to keep the integrity of this group”, he assured, in particular by keeping the media activities (Europe 1, Paris Match, JDD).
Arnaud Lagardère finally defended the strategy of Europe 1 aiming to ally with CNews, the news channel of the Canal + group belonging to Vivendi, which had led to a strike within the radio. “I do not see why, to please some detractors, we should continue to isolate ourselves. We need to make partnerships on information, on sport, on music, on cinema, and who better than the Can the Canal + group offer us this kind of partnership? “ he launched during the GA, assuring that Europe 1 and Canal + were part of the same “family”.
It is not certain that these words are enough to reassure the employees of Europe 1, who called Wednesday morning for a rally in front of the headquarters of the radio. “It is not a question of right or left. All opinions are respectable. What is playing out here is different. It is the desire to use a medium for the fracture, to pit one France against another “, said Patrick Cohen in particular, an on-air figure, about the new editorial line drawn by this CNews-Europe 1 merger.
Many people at the rally in front # Europe1 to support the fight of the journalists of the house. Elders, brotherhoods, listeners, friends… Thank you all, what a great mobilization pic.twitter.com/6LCRozr7ZN
– Clement Lesaffre (@ClementLesaffre) June 30, 2021