Vivendi Weighs Book Publisher Divestment as Part of Lagardere Takeover — Update

By Mauro Orru

Vivendi SE is considering the disposal of its book publishing business Editis to avert potential competition concerns as part of its bid to take over smaller French rival Lagardere SA, the owner of book publisher Hachette.

The media conglomerate steered by the family of French billionaire Vincent Bollore said Thursday that a divestment of Editis could take shape through a distribution to shareholders and a Paris listing, in a similar fashion to Vivendi’s spinoff of Universal Music Group NV last year.

“This plan, if achieved, would preserve the integrity of the second-largest French publishing group while providing it with all the necessary means to pursue its development,” Arnaud de Puyfontaine, chairman of Vivendi’s management board, said.

Vivendi bought Editis in early 2019. The business with some 2,400 employees generated 856 million euros ($872.9 million) in revenue in 2021. Editis competes with Lagardere’s Hachette, and Vivendi’s bid to take over the French media company could raise antitrust concerns. Vivendi already owns more than 57% of Lagardere.

Bollore SE, Vivendi’s main shareholder, is expected to sell all the Editis shares it would receive in the distribution so that Editis can have a stable core shareholder base, Vivendi said.

On Thursday, Vivendi posted revenue of EUR2.50 billion for the second quarter, up from EUR2.30 billion last year. Revenue at its pay-TV business Canal+ Group was stable at EUR1.43 billion.

For the first half, Vivendi posted net profit of EUR491 million, up from EUR488 million last year.

Adjusted earnings before interest and income taxes–a key profitability measure–rose to EUR412 million from EUR313 million.

Write to Mauro Orru at [email protected]; @MauroOrru94

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