Before the planned announcement of the new buyer of Editis – that Vivendi, its current owner, promises before the end of January – the recommendations of the staff representatives to the takeover candidates are timely.
In a confidential document produced with the firm Secafi Alpha and already presented to their management, the employees of the number two French publisher (Le Robert, 10/18, Plon, etc.) want “secure the future of Editis with a single buyer, who will take over the entire perimeter, without an IPO or a leveraged buy-out [LBO, rachat en ayant recours à beaucoup d’endettement]nor investment funds”. They yearn to be “protected from any short-term strategy and any stock market and financial speculation”.
By pleading for a 100% sale of Editis, they are therefore directly opposed to Vivendi, which, for its part, wishes to sell the company according to a “listing-distribution” scheme, by simultaneously putting the publishing house on the stock exchange. and by selling the shares held by Vincent Bolloré (29.6%) to a reference shareholder. This choice will have to be validated by the competition authorities of the European Commission, who will or will not give the green light to the takeover bid that Vivendi launched in February 2022 for the Lagardère group, in order to take control of Hachette, the world’s third largest publisher.
Burned, since they have already changed owners five times in twenty years, the employees hope that the buyer will have real financial solidity and a “demonstrated investment capacity, in line with Editis’ development challenges, with a long-term commitment (over ten years)”. Michèle Benbunan, Managing Director of Editis, said in an interview with Worldon July 6, that Vivendi had invested 50 million euros in the group in three years.
If a foreign investor is chosen – the Italian Mondadori being still on the track – the employees then ask to “reserve at least 25% of the capital for a French institutional investor”, such as Bpifrance or the Caisse des dépôts. As part of a fairer distribution, they also propose to allocate “5% to 10% of the capital to employees under preferential access conditions”, while associating them financially and equitably with the success of the business project. Which would happen in particular by “a transfer premium” (3% of the sale price), which would be redistributed to company personnel.
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