Activist hedge fund says will not seek to replace Vivendi board
By Gwénaëlle Barzic and Leila Abboud
PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. hedge fund P. Schoenfeld Asset Management (PSAM) will stop short of seeking to replace the board of Vivendi at an April 17 shareholders' meeting, despite opposing the French media group's stance on shareholder returns.
"We are not planning to try to put any new directors on the agenda," Peter Schoenfeld told Reuters in an interview. "We have no plans in that respect at all."
Schoenfeld and Vivendi have been at odds since March 23, when the fund called for an increase to the company's planned payout to shareholders from a 35 billion euro ($38 billion) cash pile amassed from a series of disposals.
Some at Vivendi had been concerned that Schoenfeld might submit a resolution to unseat the 14 member board during the meeting, which would be allowed under French law, said a source familiar with the matter.
PSAM, which says it owns 0.8 percent of Vivendi, has submitted two resolutions for the meeting that call for Vivendi to return 9 billion euros to shareholders instead of the 5.7 billion the group has pledged through 2017.
But the fight is over more than cash; it is about the future of the 162-year old company, now it is under the sway of one-time corporate raider Vincent Bollore. At issue is how the group spends the proceeds from the asset sales, its strategy, and how much power Bollore should have versus other shareholders.
NEEDING FLEXIBILITY Continued...