French state rescues ailing media, retail group Lagardere

PARIS (AFP) – French publishing and retail group Lagardere, which has been rocked by the Covid-19 pandemic, has received a nearly half-a-billion-euro rescue package underwritten by the state, the government gazette

showed yesterday. Lagardere owns Hachette publishing house, the Relay chain of airport and railway station news agents as well as Paris Match magazine, Europe 1 radio station and other media outlets.

The group’s turnover shrunk by 38 per cent in the third quarter of 2020 to EUR1.2 billion as a dearth of travellers left Relay stores bereft of customers.

Travel retail revenues were down 66 per cent to EUR393 million in the July-September period, after having already tumbled 55 per cent in the first half of the year.

The French state guaranteed a loan of EUR465 million (USD568 million) obtained by the group from 12 banks, including France’s BNP Paribas and Societe Generale and Germany’s Commerzbank.

The cash injection comes as the group’s two biggest shareholders, media group Vivendi and hedge fund investor Amber Capital which together own 49 per cent of its stock, attempt to shake up its governance.

The group’s turnover shrunk by 38 per cent in the third quarter of 2020 to EUR1.2 billion. PHOTO: AFP