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Vivendi raises stake in Lagardere, a week after Arnault's surprise move

PARIS, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Media group Vivendi raised its stake in Lagardere on Thursday, just a week after France’s richest man Bernard Arnault announced he had built up a position.

Vivendi, which is controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore, now owns 26.7% of Lagardere’s share capital and 20.2% of its voting rights. It remains Lagardere’s top shareholder, followed by activist fund Amber Capital.

Lagardere’s two biggest shareholders are seeking representation at the group’s board and have called for a swift shareholders meeting.

Loss-making Lagardere has become the unlikely target of a proxy battle between some of France’s top businessmen, after the firm’s managers sought help to fend off a campaign by Amber to shake up the company’s governance.

Arnault, who runs the world’s biggest luxury group LVMH , said last week that his family holding company now owned more than 5% of Lagardere, and that he was committed to the integrity of the group’s main activities.

The new shareholders are at odds over Lagardere’s strategy, fuelling speculation over the fate of some of Lagardere’s top assets, which include publishing house Hachette and a travel retail division. (Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; editing by David Evans)

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