Groupe La Provence: the takeover by CMA CGM validated by the commercial court

It’s the end of several months of suspense. The Bobigny commercial court validated, Friday, September 30, the takeover of the press group La Provence by the shipowner CMA CGM, one of the world’s giants in maritime transport, for 81 million euros. The decision was expected after the agreement with his competitor Xavier Niel, founder of Free and individual shareholder of the World.

“We authorize the sale for the benefit of the company CMA CGM (…) 89% of the shares making up the capital of La Provence [qui étaient détenues par le groupe Bernard Tapie, en liquidation judiciaire] »writes the commercial court in its order, consulted by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

Almost a year after the death of the businessman and then a long battle in the courts, CMA CGM and Xavier Niel’s group have long been torn for control of the flagship of the press in the south of France , the shipowner took control of a group which had eight hundred and fifty employees and published the daily newspapers Provence and Corse-Morning.

By purchasing these newspapers, CMA CGM, based in Marseille, is making a remarkable entry into the world of the media. The shipowner’s appetite does not stop there, since Rodolphe Saadé, its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), is also in the running to take over the M6 ​​channel, within a team led by Stéphane Courbit ( FL Entertainment).

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers How Rodolphe Saadé, unknown in the world of the press, conquered “La Provence”

“Permanence of titles”

“I am delighted with this decision which comes to the end of several months of work and intense mobilization of all the parties”welcomed in a press release the judicial liquidator of the Bernard Tapie Group, Marc Sénéchal.

“This is excellent news for CSEs [comités sociaux et économiques] and unions that I represent and who, since the beginning of the procedure, have been fighting for the CMA’s offer to be chosen “also reacted to AFP lawyer Catherine Szwarc. “Only this offer guarantees the sustainability of the titles Provence and Corse-Morningonly this offer guarantees the maintenance of jobs and the development of the company »she said.

Relief also on the side of the unions: “We have a lot of hope and a lot of expectations. This period of uncertainty has put the company in great difficulty, so we are delighted with the arrival of this new shareholder after ten years of inertia under the Tapie era”reacted to AFP Sophie Manelli, delegate of the National Union of Journalists (SNJ) at Provence. “We are now awaiting the appointment of a new editorial director”continues the trade unionist, warning against a reproduction of“mistakes of the past with high-sounding names”. “We must give precedence to the competence and knowledge of the regional daily press, so that the skills of journalists can once again be expressed. We need to turn a page, we have to move quickly to breathe new life into us”she added.

Agreement between Rodolphe Saadé and Xavier Niel

The decision of the commercial court constitutes the epilogue of a legal tussle that has pitted two billionaires against each other for months: Mr. Saadé and Mr. Niel, who already owns shares in several media (Nice morning, The world…).

It had been expected since the two groups had announced, at the end of August, that they had signed an agreement for the repurchase by CMA CGM of all the shares (11%) held by NJJ, Mr. Niel’s holding company, in the capital of the La Provence Group.

The agreement also provides for the creation of a joint venture in order to “developing a new printing press in the Var”. This last “aims, by the end of 2024, to ensure the impression of the whole” titles from Groupe La Provence, excluding Corse-Presse, and the regional daily Nice morningproperty of Mr. Niel, had specified the interested parties in a joint press release.

At the end of a second call for tenders launched in February, only the project to take over CMA CGM had been retained by the judicial co-liquidators, because “best bidder”, at 81 million euros, against 20 million for that of Mr. Niel. This offer had also been validated by the company’s six CSEs. CMA CGM also recovers the “current account opened in [ses] books for an indicative amount of 8.1 million euros on 1er January 2022 ».

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers Sale of La Provence: the court gives an advantage to the CMA-CGM offer

The World with AFP

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