By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Vivendi, the French media conglomerate controlled by billionaire Vincent Bollore, on Friday won conditional EU antitrust approval for its acquisition of France’s largest publisher Lagardere.
Vivendi last year announced the deal which would give it control of Lagardere’s flagship weekly publications Journal du Dimanche (JDD) and Paris Match.
The European Commission, which acts as the competition enforcer in the 27-country European Union, said Vivendi agreed to sell its publishing unit Editis and celebrity magazine Gala to address regulatory concerns about the deal.
Vivendi said in a statement that it was confident it would finalise those two transactions by the end of October.
“We need to make sure that the book publishing and press markets remain competitive and diversified, to foster a plurality of ideas and opinions,” EU commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
“The remedies proposed by Vivendi will allow for the preservation of existing competition in those markets, to the benefit of consumers.”
Reuters reported in April that the remedies were sufficient to help Vivendi gain EU antitrust clearance for the acquisition.
Vivendi in April struck a deal to sell Editis to a company owned by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, who already has stakes in France’s Le Monde newspaper, supermarket company Casino and TV group TF1.
“The European Commission’s decision is excellent news for Vivendi which will now be able to successfully carry out its ambitious development plan with the Lagardere group,” said Vivendi’s supervisory board chairman Yannick Bollore.
“The transaction will align with our strategic ambition to internationalize our activities and our determination to be a leading global player in culture and entertainment,” he added.
(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee;Editing by Bart Meijer/Sudip Kar-Gupta/Louise Heavens)