Hachette: Arnaud Lagardère leaves his mandate as CEO of the Lagardère group after his indictment

Arnaud Lagardère was indicted on April 29 for “misuse of corporate assets and abuse of power” as part of a judicial investigation opened in April 2021 by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office.

Bought by the Bolloré family at the end of 2023, the Lagardère group finds itself for the moment without a CEO: its leader, Arnaud Lagardère, abandoned his functions on Tuesday, after being indicted as part of investigations into the financing of personal expenses by his companies.

“As part of his indictment, a provisional measure prohibiting management was pronounced against Mr. Arnaud Lagardère, a measure which he contests and against which he will appeal, but which nevertheless forces him to resign from his executive mandates within the group,” Lagardère said in a press release.

The members of the board of directors “will meet very soon” in order to “make all provisional arrangements” to ensure the governance of the group, “while waiting for the possibility for Arnaud Lagardère to take over effective management”.

Lagardère was bought at the end of November by the media and publishing giant Vivendi, controlled by the family of billionaire Vincent Bolloré. This group, a former aeronautical and media empire, was built by Jean-Luc Lagardère, Arnaud’s father. The latter inherited it upon the death of the former in 2003.

Judicial information

Lagardère has a very profitable network of stores in train stations and airports (Relay brands, Duty Free stores), famous performance halls (Casino de Paris, Folies Bergère, etc.), media (Europe 1, Le Journal du Dimanche. ..), or the French number one in publishing, Hachette Livres.

Arnaud Lagardère was indicted on Monday following a day of questioning by financial investigating judges. He was heard in a judicial investigation opened by the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF) in April 2021 on the basis of a complaint from the Amber Capital fund, A court source cited reports obtained by the Financial Markets Authority (AMF) and the High Council of Auditors (H3C, presently known as the High Audit Authority, H2A).

According to reports, the violations were done during April 2009 until December 2022. Arnaud Lagardère is suspected of having “funded his lifestyle and personal expenses by drawing on the funds of the Lagardère SAS and Lagardère companies” (LCM), detailed the source. judicial.

These businesses would have mostly covered his building-related costs for a number of years, in addition to an endowment debt and multiple current account advances, she continued.

The group, for its part, assured Tuesday that “this indictment essentially concerns facts concerning personal companies belonging entirely to it and not involving any company in the Lagardère group.”

The group “strongly contests”

“With regard to Lagardère SA, the indictment of Mr. Arnaud Lagardère concerns only facts dating from 2018 and 2019, qualified as vote buying, abuse of power and dissemination of false or misleading information, facts which he strongly contests,” the group said.

This legal episode is the latest in a long series which has seen the Lagardère heir lose his aura and over the years close down the group founded in 1992 by his father Jean-Luc. This empire was the result of the merger between the aircraft manufacturer Matra and the publisher Hachette.

In the decade following the death of Jean-Luc Lagardère, his son fell into debt, sold the EADS aerospace branch and sold several media outlets.

In 2021, he renounced share sponsorship, a status created by his father which allowed them both successively to lead the Lagardère group with less than 10% of the capital, thus precipitating the dismantling of the family empire. A dismantling completed in November by the takeover of Vivendi.

“We are now part of the Vivendi family. If I may say this personal word, we are joining the Bolloré family, which I find even more flattering,” said Arnaud Lagardère on April 25 during the annual general meeting of his group.

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