Les Echos Unions Urge Pearson to Heed Alternative Bidder

12 September 2007

PARIS: Leading French financial daily newspaper Les Echos, owned by the UK's Pearson group, is currently in process of disposal to LMVH - publisher of rival financial daily Le Tribune - a move strongly opposed by staff and unions.

On Wednesday Les Echos works council will renew its efforts to block the agreed €240 million ($331.05m; £163.18m) sale and persuade Pearson to open negotiations with French holding company Fimalac which has already filed a €245m counter-bid.

Given LVMH's prolific commercial activities, Les Echos journalists are concerned as to the adequacy of its guarantees of editorial independence.

Vincent de Féligonde, chairman of the Society of Journalists, claims that 98% of Les Echos staff are opposed to the LVMH deal.

He warns Pearson: "You put ethical standards at the top of your agenda [so] your image will be seriously damaged if you sell this newspaper against the wishes of the quasi-totality of the staff."

Staff unions are seemingly employing delaying tactics, hoping these wil result in a time-out of the current deal whose exclusivity clause expires November 30. The Fimalac counter-offer holds good until December 31.

Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff