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Vivendi-Lagardere deal faces full-scale EU antitrust probe

Media group Vivendi’s proposed acquisition of rival Lagardere is likely to face a full-scale EU antitrust investigation, people close to the matter said on Tuesday.

The proposed deal would combine France’s two biggest publishing groups, Lagardere’s Hachette and Vivendi’s Editis, and has come in for criticism from rivals including renowned peer Gallimard.

To resolve EU antitrust concerns, Vivendi’s top investor – billionaire Vincent Bollore – would sell all Editis shares he would receive after the transaction, which would consist of a simultaneous distribution of the publishing unit’s shares to Vivendi shareholders and its listing.

The European Commission is expected to launch an in-depth investigation after finishing its preliminary review of the deal on Nov. 30, the sources said.

The EU competition enforcer and Vivendi declined to comment.

Bollore is Vivendi’s controlling shareholder with a 29% stake. The mass media holding company already owns 57% of Lagardere after a bid for all of the group’s shares. Reuters

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