We thought Arnaud Lagardère was completely relaxed on the eve of the holidays. On June 30, the general meeting voted for his extension for six years at the head of the company that owns Hachette, the Relay shops, Europe 1, Sunday newspaper and of Paris Match. After months of battle, peace had just been signed with its turbulent shareholders – Vincent Bolloré, Bernard Arnault and the British activist investment fund Amber Capital. The return to school therefore promised to be auspicious.
This peace of mind could be short-lived. According to our information, the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) opened, in April, a judicial investigation for heads of misuse of corporate assets, purchase of votes, inaccurate accounts and dissemination of false or misleading information, this which led to the appointment of an investigating judge. However, by signing an agreement with his partners, Arnaud Lagardère also put an end to the multiple procedures underway with Amber Capital. But the story escaped him: the PNF decided to take up the complaint filed by the activist fund in February, when the crisis was still acute. At Lagardère, we claim to have not yet been informed of the prosecution’s approach.
For three years, the heir and Amber Capital have been battling in court. A judicial standoff that has its origins in the general meeting of May 2018. At the time, the British wanted to appoint two directors to the supervisory board. Lagardère is opposed to it. The two belligerents work together each shareholder to win his votes.
Qatar, the group’s largest shareholder, and supposed to be a historical ally of Arnaud Lagardère, fails to fall into the camp of the activist fund. He begins by voting for it. Before retracting at the last moment. Why ? This reversal of jacket is secret, but the rumor circulates in Paris. Questions about Qatar’s positions intensified in September, when Lagardère introduced Jamal Benomar to his council. Officially, this Moroccan-Briton has held high positions at the United Nations. In reality, it is believed to be ” a secret agent “ from Qatar, as stated in the United States by Elliott Broidy, a Republican close to Donald Trump, at war with the emirate.
Would Lagardère have cashed in on his partner’s turnaround by a place on the board? The group justifies the appointment of this diplomat, who does not know the business world, by his very good “Knowledge of many countries, particularly in Africa and the Middle East”. Nothing to do with Qatar, says Lagardère.
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