Journalists du Monde summoned Tuesday in a forum their new shareholder Daniel Kretinsky to "guarantee their independence" by giving them a say on the changes in capital control of the group.
One of the two majority shareholders, Xavier Niel, signed this right Monday. Virtually all Le Monde journalists now ask the other majority shareholder Matthieu Pigasse and "his new partner, [Czech businessman] Daniel Kretinsky, to co-sign this agreement" before September 17th.
"This is the opportunity for the latter to join the gesture to the word," say the journalists. In one of his rare public statements, Daniel Kretinsky explained Thursday in Paris that his investments were motivated by "the ambition to support traditional journalism", "the ambition to support European democracy and to fight against manipulation and populism ".
"Le Monde is living a crucial moment," say the journalists. "For the first time in its history, it could be forced to welcome into its capital a new shareholder without consulting his editorial.There is our editorial freedom.
"The signing of the right of approval is a prerequisite for the opening of discussions to know the real intentions of Mr. Kretinsky.This would also be a first sign that the industrial understands the singularity of the Group Le Monde," conclude the more 450 journalists from the world.
In 2010, the newspaper's independence center, which brings together employees, journalists and the readers' society, chose among several bids from the Bergé-Niel-Pigasse trio. Since then, the group has returned to financial equilibrium.
- "We ask for a gesture" -
In October 2018, the investor Daniel Kretinsky, fifth Czech fortune, had entered the capital of the World in favor of an unexpected alliance with Mr. Pigasse, raising the concern of the pole of independence.
This one had obtained from Xaviel Niel and Matthieu Pigasse that they engage on the installation of a "right of approval", which remains since blocked in negotiations.
Mr. Kretinsky invested in several other French media last year (magazines Marianne, Elle, Ici Paris and Public, among others), gathered in the group CMI France, chaired by the old man strong Lagardère, Denis Olivennes.
His group has also acquired two French coal plants and put a foot in the French supermarket, with a small equity stake in Casino.
In addition, Daniel Kretinsky and Matthieu Pigasse have been negotiating for months the acquisition of shares in the Spanish group Prisa, which would allow them to go from 26% to 46% in Le Monde Libre (LML), the company that controls 75% of the capital of the daily newspaper. .
The Pigasse-Kretinsky tandem assured to act "in the sole interest of the group Le Monde Libre and its collaborators, with for sole objective to reinforce the full respect of its editorial and editorial independence and to preserve its balances as well as the pluralism and the diversity shareholding ".
But this movement raises concern among employees because, precisely, it would break according to them "the balance" that prevailed since the recapitalization in 2010 by the trio Niel-Bergé-Pigasse. Xavier Niel called him his side of "aggression" against the editorial offices of Le Monde and himself.
On Tuesday, the journalists also called Madison Cox, the rightful owner of Pierre Bergé, to sign this agreement too, "in fidelity to the moral commitments that Pierre Bergé had taken during his lifetime towards Le Monde".
"This is not a declaration of war" addressed to Daniel Kretinsky, told AFP Jérôme Fenoglio, the director of the newspaper. "We ask for a gesture that shows that he puts his actions into conformity with his statements".
© 2019 AFP