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American raider fails to win support for changes at Lagardère

Guy Wyser-Pratte, the activist investor attempting to secure key changes to the governance structure of family-controlled Lagardère, failed to win the necessary support to pass his proposals at the company's general meeting on Tuesday.
 
Wyser-Pratte's attempt to gain a seat on the supervisory board was rejected in the shareholder vote by 78%, while his proposals to change the share structure of the France-based media company were also rejected by 76%.
 
Under the current structure, second-generation CEO Arnaud Lagardère is a general partner and so has the power to block certain shareholder proposals despite owning less than 10% of Lagardere stock. General partners also take unlimited liability for company debts.
 
The results of the shareholder vote represent a clear victory for Arnaud Lagardère, who has received much criticism of late from Wyser-Pratte over his leadership and commitment to the company. (Continue reading here)
 
Before the vote Arnaud Lagardère (pictured) highlighted the success of the company's strategy over the last 10 years in order to address some of the criticism he faced from Wyser-Pratte. He explained how he had "reinvented the group" and refocused its activities on media. He also called Wyser-Pratte an "American raider" and urged shareholders to vote against his proposals.
 
Wyser-Pratte is the owner of New York-based Wyser-Pratte Management Co, an active investing fund focused on undervalued European equities.
 
Lagardère was founded in 1992 by Arnaud's father Jean-Luc Lagardère when he brought together his holdings in French aerospace company Matra and publishing house Hachette. The group recorded 2009 revenues of €8.3 billion and today operates in more than 40 countries.

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