The European Commission has given the green light this Friday to the merger of two giants of communication and the publishing world of France. After more than six months of investigations, Brussels approves the acquisition of Lagardère by the Vivendi group, controlled by Vincent Bolloré and a shareholder of the Prisa Group. Of course, the operation comes with conditions: Vivendi, who takes over his rival, must fulfill his offer to get rid of the Editis publishing house and the gossip magazine, Gala, as he had offered to complete an operation launched in 2021.
“Vivendi and Lagardère are leading companies in the French book and magazine market. We have to make sure that the publishing and press market continue to be competitive and diversified, to promote a plurality of ideas and opinions”, explained the European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, when announcing the Brussels decision. The conditions imposed and accepted by Vivendi “will allow the preservation of competition in those markets, for the benefit of consumers,” she added.
The Lagardère group owns the third largest publishing house in the world, Hachette Livre, which, in Spain, owns Alianza Editorial, Ediciones Salvat, Bruño and Anaya, among others.
Editis, from which Vivendi will now disassociate itself, houses well-known French publishers, among others Robert Laffont, Nathan, Le Robert and Pocket, and is the number two publishing conglomerate in the French market. The Commission was concerned that a merger of Vivendi and Lagardère would “significantly reduce competition in a publishing market”, where “there are only a limited number of credible players in the entire book value chain”, which would have had a “detrimental impact on authors, small publishers, book distributors, and the consumer.”
Similarly, he considered that the merger could have “reduced the options and increased the price” of gossip magazines, since Vivendi’s Gala is one of the most direct competitors of Paris Match, Lagardère’s flagship magazine.
Vivendi’s proposal to leave Editis and Gala “completely responds to the concerns identified by the Commission”, so for Brussels, the merger, with the commitments acquired, “no longer raises competition concerns”. The Commission has indicated that an independent administrator will monitor compliance with the commitments. In addition, the merger with Lagardère, which also owns the proprietary Journal du Dimanche and the Europe1 radio station, can only be completed once Brussels gives its go-ahead to the buyer of the businesses to be separated from, which will be subject to a “separate purchase approval procedure”.
Vivendi controls Canal+ (television and cinema), Havas (advertising, public relations and communication), as well as Prisma Medias (magazines). With the acquisition of Lagardère and his house Hachette, with well-known publishers such as Grasset, Fayard, Stock or Calmann-Lévy, Vivendi will be able to compete with another publishing and media giant, the German group Bertelsmann, the Agency highlights. France Presse.
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