Vivendi shareholders tackle Vincent Bolloré at the AGM

The extraordinary grip over all of his asset  by Vincent Bolloré was confirmed during the general meeting of Vivendi on 25 April by the adoption of all the resolutions, notably thanks to the double voting right and following very questionable threats against foreign shareholders made in 2015 by Vivendi…

A magician of language, a no-nonsense industrialist and a great financier, Bolloré never ceased to prove his talent. He might succeed at achieving what Jean-Marie Messier failed to s: the convergence of contents and carriers, the alliance between the creation and the media, and the appearance of a unique French media group facing the greatest Americans. With his disturbing but effective financial opportunism, the  problem with Vincent Bolloré is that he does not like to comply with the rules of good governance.

And  even his peers, the big French bosses blame him. Created in 2013, under the pressure of the French  government, Medef and Afep to extinguish the fire of abusive remuneration  new version of the “Code of Government of listed companies”, was written and a High Council of Corporate Governance (HCGE) was created, charged with enforcing the Code and privately admonishing offenders. According to the Les Jours website, which reveived some confidential stories,  the HCGE President Denis Ranque alleged that Vivendi had explicitly objected to Vincent Bolloré, chairman of a supervisory Board at Vivendi: ” You are more involved as a real executive officer than as the chairman of the supervisory Board responsible for overseeing but not managing the company and its group. “No one needs to see Bolloré in a general assembly to find out who caries the sheriff’s star, who is the operational boss and who specifically calls the managers of the various subsidiaries to tell publically he beautiful story of Vivendi.

Vivendi’s minority shareholders in fact strongly sanctioned the leader maximo for its multiple directorships at listed companies, while he was demanding to be  re-elected for a four-year term at the Supervisory Board: his score was only 82.12% and would have been only 62 to 66% of the AGM  votes without the artifice of the double voting right.

More clearly, the Say on Pay vote for of members of the Executive Board subjected to the iron hand of this authoritarian Bolloré paid the price for this poor governance. The remuneration of the Chairman of the Management Board, Arnaud de Puyfontaine (ie € 3.5 million for 2016) was deemed excessive and did not reach 75% of the votes,  as those of MM. Hervé Philippe (€ 2.4 million) and Stéphane Roussel (€ 2.7 million). Ironically, to accept the constant involvement in the management by the Chairman of the Supervisory Boardwould appears to be the essential contribution of these the Executive Board members…

Without the double voting rights Vivendi could no longer increase its capital.

Two years ago, the Bolloré group held 10.20% of the share capital of Vivendi, ie 138,976,805 shares.

On the day of the general meeting held on April 25, the Bolloré group held at least 20.65% of the share capital (257,689,013 of the 1,247,888,683 shares ) and, thanks to double voting rights 40, 6% of the 975 610 998 votes of the ordinary general meeting.

Several resolutions were passed with less than 75% of the votes ie less than 731,708,248 votes and would have got  60% of the votes without the Bolloré Group’s 138,976,805 double voting rights. They apparently almost all passed, even without the presumed vote of general support of the 200 727 450 double voting rights of which the 15 million double voting rights of the plan of the employees. Resolution 14 appointing Yannick Bolloré only garnered 697,709,447 votes, or only 71.52% of the vote: even without the support of the total of 200 million voting rights double its score “naked” would finally have largely exceeded 387,441 774 votes needed for the threshold of 50% of the votes cast.

But the extraordinary financial resolution to increase the capital with DPS for € 750 million, Resolution No. 21, adopted at 70.1% (691,382,945 votes) with the support of Proxinvest, would undoubtedly not have passed since it would then not have reached the 516,537,373 shares required to reach the 66.7% threshold without the double voting right.

Although this very ambitious financial resolution did not seem to be a problem, Proxinvest insists that double voting rights remained a very perverse protectionnist provision.

 

April 26 2017

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