PARIS, July 4 The boss of Club Mediterranee played the national champion card on Friday in the battle for control the French all-inclusive holiday pioneer, saying a sale to Italian tycoon Andrea Bonomi would hand control to foreign investors.
Chairman and Chief Executive Henri Giscard d'Estaing has teamed up with China's Fosun International and French private equity group Ardian for a 557 million euros ($760 million) bid for Club Med priced at 17.5 euros a share.
Bonomi, now Club Med's largest shareholder after building a stake this year, topped the offer on Monday, offering 21 euros a share, or 790 million euros..
"The Gaillon project, which regroups Ardian and Fosun, is a strict balance, a parity between a French and a Chinese shareholder...On the contrary (Bonomi's) Global Resorts has a very different plan and wants sole control of the Club which would be exclusively in international hands," Giscard d'Estaing told French daily Le Figaro.
The French government has a largely successful history of protecting local companies from foreign takeovers and the Fosun-Ardian camp has been trying in recent weeks to rally support from authorities against Bonomi, sources have said.
Earlier this year, France intervened to halt the sale of French engineering group Alstom, agreeing to let U.S. conglomerate to take the firm, but only after securing an option for the French state to buy 20 percent of Alstom.
Bonomi's strategy to win over support for his deal in France has been to promise he would accelerate expansion in the country. He has made clear he would replace current management and said he would split the CEO and Chairman positions.
Giscard 'Estaing would not comment on the likelihood of a counter-bid by the Fosun-Ardian's camp.
"My sole concern is the future of the company. My responsibility is to support the project that best meets Club Med's interest. As to terms, price, it's up to Gaillon to say if there is a need to raise or not the price of the offer,"
($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon)