On Monday, the board of directors of La Provence (Provence, Corsica-Press) approved the takeover of the 89% stake held by Bernard Tapie in the press group by the shipowner CMA-CGM. But to do so, the board invalidated the votes of three of the five directors. Representatives of Xavier Niel will file appeals.
New twist in the La Provence affair which has been agitating the Marseille city for seven months. On Monday, the board of directors of La Provence (Provence, Corsica-Press) met to approve the sale of 89% of the capital to Rodolphe Saadé. Gathered under the leadership of Marc Sénéchal, liquidator of the Bernard Tapie Group, the five members of the Board of Directors had to unanimously validate the offer. The atmosphere was very conflictual throughout this Board of Directors. The first dramatic change was the fact that Stéphane Tapie did not come and gave his power of attorney to Anthony Maarek, Xavier Niel’s group representative. The board of directors invalidated this power of attorney. There were therefore only four members left, two (Jean-Christophe Serfati and Virginie Layani) voted for approval and two, Anthony Maarek and Anne-Sophie Jahan, voted against. Therefore the chairman of the board Jean-Christophe Serfati said that according to the judgment of the Aix-en Provence Court of Appeal, the votes of the representatives of NJJ, were in conflict of interest. They were therefore in turn invalidated.
In the end, approval was only voted by two votes out of five. ! “It’s a strong transition” protests Anthony Maarek representative of NJJ.
“Despite repeated pressure, and still today by imposing the presence of the co-liquidators and an outside party despite the will expressed by certain directors, the majority of the directors – namely the two directors representing L’Avenir Développement and Mr Stéphane Tapie out of a total of 5 directors – did not approve this transfer project, which makes it obsolete today” estimates the release of NJJ Press. this press release explains NJJ Press’s opposition to the sale by a danger to the editorial line that could pose “the economic weight of CMA CGM in the region as well as its status as the leading private employer in Marseille”.
For its part, CMA-CGM proclaims its victory. “We are pleased that our project has today obtained the approval of the Board of Directors of Groupe La Provence. The directors representing the minority shareholders were unable to validly express their vote. The other directors present decided unanimously to accept our offer“, explains a spokesperson.
The most complete blur
The rest of the operations is in the most complete blur. With an approval, the co-liquidators can seize the judge-commissioner of the commercial court of Bobigny to proceed with the sale. But they can also decide to do nothing, which would leave Provence as it is, without a new majority shareholder. And that without counting on the new developments caused by the appeals that will be filed by Xavier Niel’s group.
Rodolphe Saadé, determined to afford his first assets in the press, did not hesitate to put 81 million euros on the table for 89% of the capital, four times more than the estimated valuation. A boon for the judicial liquidators, who seek to repay the State the debt of 400 million euros left by the late Bernard Tapie.
The two co-liquidators considered that the social interest of Provence, that of the employees who came out in favor of Rodolphe Saadé, and the interest of French taxpayers militated for the sale of the newspaper to the Saadé family, owner of the CMA-CGM shipowner.
Beyond the buyout price, Rodolphe Saadé is ready to reinvest in the title an envelope of 47 to 55 million euros which will finance seven recovery projects. In total, therefore, around 120 million euros, for a title that Bernard Tapie bought from the Hersant group for just over 20 million euros in 2013. At the time, La Provence had a paid circulation of 124,000 copies, compared to less 70,000 today. The newspaper La Provence lost 7 million euros in 2021.
SEE ALSO – Xavier Niel fired by the employees of La Provence
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