Vincent Bolloré yields his place to his son Yannick to the head of Vivendi

Yannick Bolloré attends the general assembly of Vivendi in Paris, on 19 April 2018 (Photo ERIC PIERMONT. AFP)

The breton industrialist Vincent Bolloré has made a surprise Thursday by giving up the chairmanship of the supervisory board of Vivendi (PA:VIV) to his son Yannick, the boss of the group of advertising Havas (PA:HAVA), and said its determination to retain its interests in Italy.

“I would suggest any time to appoint Yannick Bolloré to the chairman of the supervisory board of Vivendi,” he said at the conclusion of the general meeting of shareholders of the media group, who stood at the Olympia in Paris.

“This is the last assembly over which I preside,” said the business man to the reputation offensive, “it is necessary to leave the place to young people”.

This proposal was approved shortly after. “The supervisory board has decided unanimously to appoint Mr. Yannick Bolloré as its chairman in replacement of Mr Vincent Bolloré has entered its 67th year,” announced the group.

Yannick Bolloré, aged 38, is currently the CEO of Havas, group absorbed by Vivendi last year.

Vincent Bolloré, however, remains a member of the supervisory board of the media giant, whose executive board is chaired by the president of the management board Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

“It does not mean that it is away from Vivendi. But it is estimated that the site restoration is completed and the teams in place can lead the group,” explained a source close to the case to the AFP.

Vincent Bolloré has already taken the distance with the Canal+ group, leaving the 10 April, the chairman of the supervisory board of the subsidiary pay-TV to Jean-Christophe Thiery. Maxime Saada has taken up the role of the latter to the chairman of the management board of Canal+.

The businessman has repeatedly referred to his project to withdraw from the business in 2022 to yield the place to his four children. He had dubbed his son Yannick as his probable successor at the head of Vivendi, but the latter had little appeared in the media since the absorption of the advertising group Havas in the last year by Vivendi.

Yannick Bolloré spoke Thursday for the first time at a general meeting of Vivendi.

He presented the activity of Havas shareholders, welcoming “the successful integration in Vivendi, but has not given any indication on the financial prospects of the subsidiary.

– A quotation from the Universal to the study –

Arnaud de Puyfontaine has suggested that Vivendi could revive the idea of a listing of its subsidiary of Universal music, which represents 45% of the turnover of the group.

We have (…) launched a work to present to the supervisory board, the profits of a possible listing of UMG” (Universal Music Group), he said.

Vivendi had already indicated that a minority share of the capital of this major drive, a subsidiary led by Lucian Grainge could be the object of a bet on the market. And the resounding success of the ipo of the number one music streaming Spotify (NYSE:SPOT) could create a favourable context.

Vivendi considers that its capitalization is undervalued, and sees this operation as a way to straighten the valuation of the group as a whole, while releasing the cash.

The group which is going through a difficult period in Italy, has also confirmed his determination to fight to keep the control of the operator Telecom Italia (MI:TLIT), of which he is the largest shareholder, while it is contested by the fund activist Elliott.

“This actor disputes the role of Vivendi on the basis of an erroneous analysis”, emphasized Arnaud de Puyfontaine.

“Our goal is to significantly increase the value of Telecom Italia and an Italian champion of the convergence in the interest of all shareholders and the country in total respect of the governance of the society”, he insisted.

Vincent Bolloré has also played down the setbacks, the italians of Vivendi : “The investments in Italy are shout all the world”. “But, as we say, it is at the end of the fair are the animals.”

He recalled that his investment in the Italian bank Mediobanca (MI:MDBI) there is a twenty year had been then qualified as “offering absurd”. And “finally, not only have we earned a lot of money, we now have a regular dividend, but we contribute to the stability of Mediobanca”, he noted.

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