Billionaire Arnault's Agache to hold 27% of Lagardere LCM unit

PARIS (Reuters) – Billionaire Bernard Arnault moved to shore up his influence in French conglomerate Lagardere (LAGA.PA) by acquiring a 27% stake in Arnaud Lagardere’s personal holding firm, as a battle over the future of the Lagardere business heats up.

Bernard Arnault’s and Arnaud Lagardere’s financial companies issued a joint statement on Wednesday to say Arnault’s investment unit Financiere Agache would hold around 27% of Lagardere Capital & Management (LCM).

The partnership between Arnault, who runs luxury goods company LVMH (LVMH.PA), and Lagardere comes as Arnaud Lagardere has been looking to secure his own position amid pressure from activist fund Amber Capital and Vivendi (VIV.PA) billionaire Vincent Bollore.

The broader Lagardere SCA (LAGA.PA) business comprises of a mix of travel retail outlets and a media division which houses well-known titles such as Paris Match and Hachette, but it has been mired by weak results.

In July, Lagardere posted a first-half loss of 481 million euros ($574 million) and net debt of around 2.1 billion euros, but Bernard Arnault said he was committed to those two core areas of the Lagardere business.

“This investment gives tangible form to the long-standing relationship between our two families and shows our commitment to the integrity of the Lagardère group based on its two priority areas, Lagardère Publishing and Lagardère Travel Retail,” Arnault said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Vivendi and Amber Capital have acquired stakes of more than 20% in the main Lagardere SCA company and are looking to gain boardroom seats to obtain more influence over the future strategy and direction of the company.

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