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PARIS, April 26 (Reuters) - French media and publishing firm Lagardere confirmed on Monday it was reviewing a project to transform itself into a joint-stock company, unravelling an arcane structure that had caused strife with shareholders.
“Discussions are ongoing in this respect between the company and its main shareholders. There can be no certainty as to the outcome of the current discussions,” said Lagardere, whose businesses include Paris Match magazine and airport shops.
Lagardere’s run-ins with activist investor Amber Capital over its governance set-up pushed the firm to bring in other shareholders, including Vincent Bollore via his Vivendi group, and LVMH luxury goods boss Bernard Arnault.
But the company’s powerful and cash-rich backers who had also been eyeing the group’s assets, and sources close to the discussions said on Sunday that talks also revolved around a five-year pact not to dismantle the company.
Arnaud Lagardere, who took over the company from his late father, controls Lagardere with only 7% of the shares in a “commandite” two-layer structure that gives him sway over decisions and formed a buttress against takeover attempts.
Lagardere shares were up 3% in early trading. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Sarah White; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)