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Vincent Bolloré should listen to Stephen King!

France is not the only country concerned by the concentration in the world of publishing, as evidenced by the irruption in the American public debate of Stephen King, author in particular of horror novels shining and That. Called to testify in federal court in Washington on the takeover of publisher Simon & Schuster, a subsidiary of Paramount, by Penguin Random House, itself owned by Bertelsmann, the writer said: ” The more companies the better. When I started writing, there were really hundreds of publishing houses and then they were absorbed one after another when they didn’t go bankrupt. What is happening now is a bit like the husband and wife arguing over the same house. »

READ ALSO: Bolloré abandons the merger with Hachette: an investment fund to take over Editis?

For him, an author is always weakened by his publishing house. The novelist cites his personal example. After hitting $2,500 as worthy for Carrie, his first novel, his publisher had laughed in his face when he asked for two million dollars in advances for the next three novels. Furious and humiliated, Stephen King then left him for another publisher. ” I was lucky to be able to afford it and follow my heart he says today. It is increasingly difficult for authors to find sufficient resources to live. »

This merger project, which fascinates the business world as well as that of the American intelligentsia, arouses the frank opposition of President Joe Biden who considers that this new entity would have a ” disproportionate influence on the authors and works that are published, and on the sums paid to the authors “.

READ ALSO: Bolloré: the creative world is up against the Hachette-Editis merger, Brussels intervenes

In France, the proposed Editis-Hachette merger could have generated an equivalent mobilization. It has not happened. The President of the Republic, like most political groups, remained strangely silent. Admittedly, the public authorities could not interfere with the Brussels competition department which was investigating this case, but such silence worries the community. All those who fought against the Hachette-Editis merger, led by Antoine Gallimard, consider that the fight is not over. ” We remain on the lookout and we will ensure that the Editis company is not sold to a company close to Bolloré. “says the boss of the legendary publishing house. ” Booksellers, authors will remain mobilized as long as necessary because they have little confidence in the projects hatched by Vincent Bolloré », Considers for his part Christian Thorel, founder of the bookstore Ombres Blanches in Toulouse.

Sleight of hand

Everyone fears that Vincent Bolloré, under the terms of financial games which he has mastered, will manage to transmit Editis to a friendly company. ” The solution he has chosen, that of listing on the Stock Exchange, can effectively enable him, under the terms of a multi-tiered set of share transfers, to sell Editis to a company with which he has the best relations. confirms a banker who wishes to remain anonymous. By listing Editis on the Stock Exchange, Vincent Bolloré transmits to Vivendi shareholders a fraction of Editis, which corresponds to the amount of shares that each Vivendi shareholder holds. The Bolloré group will thus own 27% of Editis, Société Générale 5% and Caisse des Dépôts 2%, while 55% of the shares will still be dispersed to the public. Whoever buys Bolloré’s share will therefore not control the company since he will not have the blocking minority of 30% and a fortiori the majority. The acquirer will therefore have to buy Editis shares on the market to control the company. It may even be forced to launch a takeover bid, which will give rise to speculation which activist funds enjoy.

READ ALSO: Takeover by Vivendi (Bolloré): booksellers up against the Hachette-Editis merger

The financial market therefore expects to see the return of the players who distinguished themselves in the takeover of Lagardère by Vincent Bolloré. Activist fund Amber, which owns Spanish publishing house Prisa, is among the favourites. The name of Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière is also mentioned. According to confidences that the governance of Editis would have received, he would have already concluded an agreement with Vincent Bolloré to buy back shares of Editis en bloc. No one has forgotten that he had sold to Vincent Bolloré the 4% of Lagardère shares that he had bought, via his company Fimalac, cashing in the process a capital gain of 50%.

However, the proximity of Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière with Vincent Bolloré prevents him from taking control of Editis. Except to be informed of an investigation by the French Competition Authority. On the other hand, in this multifaceted game of transmission, it can constitute one of the cogs that will send Editis to the company that Vincent Bolloré has already chosen. The scenario is probably completed but it may take two years before it is finalized. Until then, Editis will have to live without a boss and without an owner. Which is not conducive to its development.

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