Authors, booksellers and independent publishers want to impose conditions on Daniel Kretinsky, the prospective buyer of Editis

Czech businessman Daniel Kretinsky on January 22, 2020, in Paris.

Alongside real reasons for satisfaction, major questions remain after the decision of the European Commission to authorize, subject to conditions, on Friday June 9, the acquisition of Lagardère (parent company of Hachette Livre, the world number three in publishing ) by Vivendi. The lawyer specializing in competition law Isabelle Wekstein, partner of WAN, which defends booksellers (the Syndicat de la Librairie Française, that of distributors of cultural leisure activities, and about fifteen bookstores directly, such as Le Divan in Paris, Passages in Lyon…), authors’ organizations (the Permanent Council of Writers and the Charter of Youth Authors and Illustrators) as well as the independent publishers Actes Sud and L’Ecole des loisirs, are not giving up.

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“Vivendi was forced to abandon its plan to merge the Editis groups (today still a 100% subsidiary of the Vincent Bolloré group) and Hatchet. This danger, the greatest, has been definitively removed, it is a very good thing., says the lawyer straight away. Among the remedies imposed by Brussels to get their hands on Lagardère, Vivendi will have to sell 100% of Editis (French number two in the sector and parent company of Nathan, Pocket, Plon, Bouquins, etc.) and 100% of the magazine Gala. “Which shows that our concerns in the tabloid press were not absurd”underlines Isabelle Wekstein, for whom “the transfer of Paris Match would perhaps have had more impact in terms of competition”.

“This is the result of an unprecedented mobilization, for more than two years”, authors, publishers and booksellers clients of the lawyer, welcomed the latter, Monday, June 12. They “approve the retention of two leaders (In) publishing – Hachette (parent company of Grasset, Calmann-Lévy, Fayard, Stock…) and Editis, but “remain worried about the threats posed to the French market by the creation of a duopoly”.

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In the eyes of Isabelle Wekstein, “the takeover of the Lagardère group by Vivendi leads to a strengthening of Hachette’s dominant position”. Its customers recall that “in the book sector, hyperconcentration and financialization undermine the objectives of diversity, freedom and creative independence” And “emphasize the imbalances between large multimedia groups, on the one hand, and authors, independent publishers and booksellers, on the other”.

These will therefore be “very attentive to the evolution of the market thus recomposed” as well as the candidacy of the prospective buyer of Editis, the group of Daniel Kretinsky (indirect shareholder of the World), precisely because he became the leading shareholder of Fnac (with 25% of the capital).

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