Lagardere may get help from allies in fight with Amber Capital

PARIS (Reuters) – Lagardere (LAGA.PA) shares rose as much as 12% on Thursday after Les Echos reported the French multimedia conglomerate could get help from French tycoon Vincent Bollore and Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, who heads finance group Fimalac, in its fight with Amber Capital.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of French media group Lagardere is seen at the group’s shareholders meeting in Paris, France, May 3, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

For more than four years, the activist hedge fund has been criticising the management and stock market performance of Lagardere, which has publishing, travel retail and media businesses.

Last month, Amber Capital, which has about 16.4% of Lagardere’s shares, said it would propose its own list of new supervisory board members at Lagardere’s annual shareholder meeting on May 5.

“They entered or are considering entering the capital of the publishing and distribution group in order to bring their votes during its May 5 General Meeting,” Les Echos wrote, without citing its sources.

These stakes would be smaller than the regulatory threshold of 5%, so they do not have to be notified to French stock market authorities.

“It is a friendly gesture of support,” one source close to the matter said, confirming the Les Echos report.

Bollore and Lacharriere could not be immediately reached for comment. Lagardere had no official comment.

By 1501 GMT, Lagardere shares were up 10.8% at 16.84 euros. They have rebounded 100% from an historic low of 8.14 euros set on March 17. The shares are still down 13% since the start of the year.

Amber Capital on Tuesday urged fellow investors to support proposals to replace the majority of Lagardere’s supervisory board members, according to a letter shared with Reuters on Wednesday.

The hedge fund has criticised Lagardere’s management and supervisory board for a “denial of reality” over the company’s financial performance.

Reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic, Marc Angrand, Dominique Vidalon. Editing by Jane Merriman

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