* Wyser-Pratte says expects Qatar to back CEO
* Says has bought a new stake in Lagardere
* Lagardere struggling with sports business strategy
By Christian Plumb and Julien Ponthus
PARIS, Dec 29 Qatar Holding has raised its
stake in Lagardere to over 10 percent, making the Gulf
state the largest shareholder in the struggling French
The oil-rich emirate has been a staunch supporter of Chief
Executive Arnaud Lagardere even as some shareholders have
assailed the chief executive's strategy for the company his
father founded, which competes with Pearson Plc and
Bertelsmann AG in radio and book publishing.
A spokesman for the Qatar Investment Authority declined to
comment. Lagardere officials did not return a phone call seeking
Lagardere, which also is a top shareholder in Airbus parent
EADS, has struggled this year as the company's
fledgling sports business has been plagued by integration
The company was twice forced to scale back its annual core
profit target, forcing its CEO to defend his decision to pour
money into the venture.
Activist shareholder Guy Wyser-Pratte, who last year lost a
battle to weaken Arnaud Lagardere's powers at the company, told
Reuters that he expected Qatar to support the CEO as it has in
"The Qataris are great friends of Arnaud Lagardere's
father," Wyser-Pratte said. "I think they're doing it to protect
the son. They will undoubtedly support him whatever happens."
Lagardere officials could not be reached for comment on the
remarks by Wyser-Pratte, who has been trying to challenge the
outcome of an April 2010 shareholder vote rejecting two
proposals he made aimed at greater oversight of the company's
AMF said Qatar Holding now owned 13.2 million Lagardere
shares, or 10.1 percent of its capital.
Qatar Holding is a unit of the Qatar Investment Authority,
the emirate's sovereign wealth fund, which previously held 9.97
million shares, or 7.6 percent of Lagardere.
The move, which gives the investment vehicle a 7.9 percent
voting rights stake, was carried out through off-market
purchases, the regulator said.
Wyser-Pratte told Reuters that he had taken a new stake in
Lagardere after selling his previous holding after his 2010
defeat, but he declined to quantify the new stake.
Lagardere shares rose 2.5 percent to close at 20.24 euros,
but they are still down 36 percent for the year.
Qatar earlier this year was reported to have considered
investing in France's largest bank BNP Paribas. In May
another of the emirate's funds, Qatar Sports Investments, bought
control of famed football club Paris Saint-Germain.