PARIS — Bernard Arnault has again upped his stake in Lagardère SCA, as the embattled publishing and retail group won the latest round in what has turned into a battle between French industry titans for control of the company.
A Paris commercial court on Wednesday rejected a request by Vivendi, a media group controlled by French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, and activist investor Amber Capital for an exceptional shareholder meeting, part of their bid to gain board representation.
“Vivendi remains confident in the merits of its case and will appeal against this decision,” said Vivendi, which has been highly critical of Lagardère chief executive officer Arnaud Lagardère.
Arnault, chairman and ceo of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, first stepped in to support Lagardère last May, citing his friendship with founder Jean-Luc Lagardère, Arnaud Lagardère’s father, and saying the two families shared a long-term strategic vision for the company.
Groupe Arnault and Financière Agache, the holding company controlled by Groupe Arnault, together with a group of companies controlled by Arnaud Lagardère, have raised their stake to 15.01 percent of the capital of Lagardère SCA and 16.93 percent of voting rights, according to stock market regulator AMF.
Arnault and Lagardère said their consortium does not aim to take control of Lagardère SCA, but will acquire shares as market conditions allow. Vivendi owns close to 27 percent of shares, Amber Capital has around 20 percent, and Qatar Holding, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, has roughly 13 percent.