Brussels favors the great movement of tectonic plates in publishing

The longest and most anticipated series in the French edition still ends up being concluded. The European Commission gave the green light on Tuesday October 31 to the acquisition of Editis – French number two in the sector, which has more than fifty houses including Plon, Le Robert, 10/18, Bouquins, Bordas… – by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, via his subsidiary Czech Media Invest (CMI).

This sale constituted one of the conditions required by the Commission to validate the public purchase offer (OPA) launched in September 2021 by the Vivendi group of Vincent Bolloré (current owner of Editis) for the Lagardère group, the parent company. from Hachette Livre.

“This is a major step”, rejoices a Vivendi spokesperson. For the Breton industrialist to achieve his goals and get his hands on the leading French publisher (Grasset, Stock, Larousse, Le Livre de Pocket, Editions Albert René, etc.) and number three in the world, he will still have to wait – here fifteen days – authorization from the European competition watchdog to sell the magazine Gala to the Le Figaro group. And it is only when the Commission has given its official approval to these two buyers (CMI and Le Figaro) that Vivendi will be able to proceed with the sale of Editis and Gala and complete its takeover bid for Lagardère. The end of this tunnel is planned ” in the next weeks » we specify at Vivendi.

Relief at Editis

The authorization to sell Editis to Daniel Kretinsky was not obvious. Indeed, the Czech businessman also owns 25% of Fnac Darty, the leading book seller in France. Being both number two in France in publishing and the leading retailer of French-speaking books risked causing competition problems and the question had been raised by third parties at the Commission. The latter ruled in favor of Daniel Kretinsky, ruling that the “Editis’ competitors would maintain the same access to the French-speaking book retail market” since “Daniel Kretinsky’s current minority stake does not give him control over Fnac Darty”.

But nothing prevents this billionaire, who is trying to acquire the IT group Atos and is participating in the takeover of the distributor Casino, from one day wanting to take control of Fnac Darty… In which case, the cards would be reshuffled and it would be necessary undoubtedly still looking for a buyer for Editis – while this group will change hands for the fifth time in twenty years. The most cynical observers are betting on the fact that Daniel Kretinsky will prefer Fnac Darty to Editis.

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