Bolloré Eyes French Business Daily Newspaper Market

02 July 2007

PARIS: Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré says he could be interested in bidding for French business daily La Tribune, likely to be up for grabs as owner LVMH pursues acquisition of rival title Les Echos.

The French financier, head of the Groupe Bolloré conglomerate, avers: "It is clear that a group like us will expand into the business press. One could imagine that a newspaper such as . . . La Tribune would bring us a lot." But he says he has not had any direct contact with the newspaper.

In addition to his interest in Havas and UK-based media agency group Aegis, Bolloré has stakes in digital terrestrial television Direct8 and free French dailies DirectSoir and MatinPlus.

Luxury brands firm LVMH is in exclusive negotiations with UK-headquartered media company Pearson about an offer for Les Echos, estimated at between €230 million ($308.5m; £154.6m) and €250m.

La Tribune could find itself up for sale if these negotiations are successful. French competition regulators would be unlikely to allow LVMH and its billionaire chief, Bernard Arnault, to own both titles.

Journalists have taken strike action over the deal, with Les Echos staff fearing for their editorial independence under Arnault ... and La Tribune's staff for their newspaper's very existence if LVMH has to sell quickly.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff