After the national press, Xavier Niel is interested in the regional dailies. The founder of Free and co-owner of the Le Monde group announced via a press release that it had entered into exclusive negotiations to take a stake in Nice-Matin. Xavier Niel is indeed in discussion with the belgian group Nethys, the main shareholder of the daily, with 34% of the share capital, in order to regain the majority of its shares.
"The Group Nethys has informed on Wednesday 12 June the management of Nice-Matin that it had entered into negotiations with Xavier Niel to take, via his personal holding NJJ and in a short time period, a controlling interest in the company's Future Development held by Nethys," says the press release. This announcement was well received by the editorial, "to which Xavier Niel has already demonstrated that it knew how to respect the independence of the newspapers that he owns," says the editorial director Denis Tiles.
However, the presidency of Nice-Matin provides in a statement that "both the management and the majority shareholder, the SCIC Nice-Matin, have never received any proposal and even less project of the founder of the group Free." This announcement was made public "before any contact with the management and the majority shareholder does not correspond to normal practice in terms of entry into the capital of a press company and may be perceived as hostile." In internal email sent Monday morning to the employees, the CEO Jean-Marc Pastorino is estimated that this new "is once again one of the small arrangements that the group Nethys tries to impose on the SCIC."Iskandar Safa on the ranks
It's been more than six months, the tensions are vivid between the direction of Nice-Matin and its shareholder, belgian, Nethys. In 2014, the daily newspaper, then in receivership, was taken over at the helm of the commercial court by its own employees organized into a cooperative. Meet its investment needs, Nice-Matin has welcomed two years later to its capital the group belgian public Nethys, present in Wallonia in the energy, telecoms and the media. According to the shareholders agreement, Nethys came to 20%, and then had to go to 34% before to take the majority of the units from January 1, 2019. But it has not been.
On December 28, 2018, the belgian group announced that it wanted to sell its stake in Nice-Matin "as soon as it receives an acceptable offer." A way predictable, as the relationship between Nethys and daily life had become for the less remote. The businessman franco-lebanese Iskandar Safa, already owner of the group Valmonde ( Current Values, mieux vivre votre argent ) took the ball to the leap in January to apply. This solution has been very well received on the part of the management of the newspaper.The solution Safa rejected by Nethys
But Nethys has not heard of this ear, on the pretext that the initial offer of Iskandar Safa was too low in the light of 20 million euros invested by the belgian group in the daily. Hence the current discussions with Xavier Niel. However, the businessman franco-lebanese had agreed to raise its bid at a price equivalent to the whole of the sums advanced by Nethys, or 20.9 million euros, in addition to "significant investments that ensure the sustainability of Nice-Matin." "The announcement by way of press of Xavier Niel comes to opposing this solution," said CEO Jean-Marc Pastorino in its internal communication. In a tract, the representatives of the CGT indicates that the offer of Iskandar Safa "was refused on Monday by the group Nethys, which is not without consequence for the employees of Nice-Matin." "How do you trust Xavier Niel, Stéphane Moreau [the leader of Nethys] gets us out of the hat at the last moment? Is there a coalition to dismantle the group Nice-Matin?"
In summary, Nethys wants to sell his shares to Xavier Niel, so that the direction of the newspaper wants them to go to Iskandar Safa. However, this sale cannot be done without the approval of Nethys and employee-shareholders of Nice-Matin. The arm of iron between the two parties is likely to prolong.Updated Date: 18 June 2019, 00:00