PARIS, Sept 1 (Reuters) - French media conglomerate Vivendi
and activist fund Amber Capital - the two biggest
shareholders in French company Lagardere - said they
would go to court over Lagardere's refusal to hold a special
The legal challenge highlights an intensifying and bitter
battle to gain influence over Lagardere, which has pitted French
billionaires Vincent Bollore and LVMH's Bernard
Arnault against each other.
Late on Monday, Lagardere rejected a request by Amber and
Vivendi to hold an extraordinary general meeting (EGM), aimed at
giving Amber and Vivendi boardroom seats at Lagardere to hold
greater influence over the company.
"Following the refusal by the Supervisory Board and the
Managing Partners of Lagardère concerning the respective
proposals from Amber Capital and Vivendi, these two companies
will refer the matter to the Paris Commercial Tribunal to seek a
shareholders meeting, in accordance with the law and with their
August 10 agreements," the companies said in a joint statement.
Lagardere is one of France's most high-profile companies,
with a portfolio of businesses including publishing titles such
as Paris Match and a travel retail division, but the company has
been bogged down by weak results.
Amber Capital has been embroiled in a tug-of-war with
Lagardere's managers since 2016, as it pushes for a shake-up in
the governance of Lagardere, which in July posted a first-half
loss of 481 million euros ($576.7 million).
It has been joined in its efforts for a board revamp by
billionaire Bollore and the Vivendi media group he controls,
which has built up a 23.5% stake in Lagardere. Amber, a 20%
stakeholder, and Vivendi are asking for four Lagardere board
seats between them.
Bernard Arnault, who runs luxury goods group LVMH, is
investing in the personal holding company of Arnaud Lagardere,
the firm's managing partner - effectively backing the firm and
its bosses, which have brushed off Amber in the past.
($1 = 0.8341 euros)
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Christian
Schmollinger and Shailesh Kuber)