July 20, 2014 / 10:36 AM / in 4 years

Son of Club Med founder backs Italian Bonomi's takeover bid -paper

PARIS, July 20 (Reuters) - The son of Club Mediterranee’s founder told a weekly paper he supported a takeover offer by Italian tycoon Andrea Bonomi and that he would become the resort chain’s non-executive chairman if that offer is successful.

Bonomi, whose Investindustrial fund is the largest shareholder in Club Med, is offering 21 euros a share for the company, valuing it at 790 million euros ($1.1 billion).

His offer exceeds a year-old offer of 557 million euros by China’s Fosun International and French private equity group Ardian. That offer has become mired in legal challenges, and shareholders have opposed its 17.50 euros per share price as too low.

Serge Trigano, the son of Club Med founder Gilbert Trigano, told the JDD weekly newspaper that he favoured Bonomi’s offer.

“The offer by Investindustrial is more appealing and more interesting for shareholders,” Trigano, who headed the all-inclusive holiday resort chain between 1993 and 1997 before being pushed out by shareholders, told the JDD in an article published on Sunday.

“It allows the group to seek out options that are not purely Chinese and high-end,” he said.

Trigano met at length with the Bonomi family and accepted an offer to become non-executive chairman, leaving most duties to its chief executive, he said, if Bonomi’s offer is accepted by shareholders, staff representatives and a protective French government.

“For me, the Club Med will not be a full-time (job). That will be for the chief executive,” Trigano said.

Bonomi has not revealed the name of his intended CEO.

He has met trade unions to outline his plan for the French group, but has failed to convince staff representatives who are worried about possible job cuts.

Bonomi’s offer still faces opposition from Club Med Chairman and Chief Executive Henri Giscard d‘Estaing, who is also shareholder and would keep his job if Fosun and Ardian win. He has argued that a sale to Bonomi would hand control of Club Med to foreign investors.

Giscard d‘Estaing is the son of former French president Valery Giscard d‘Estaing.

Trigano said the Bonomi family understood the importance of preserving Club Med’s roots in France as well as its lower-cost options.

Trigano added he would seek to invest in the company himself if Bonomi’s bid wins.

“I don’t aim to become a major investor, but I don’t imagine myself being a marginal investor,” he told the HDD.

Fosun, with a 9.96 percent stake, and Ardian, with 9.4 percent, have said their plan is to accelerate Club Med’s shift towards China, which Club Med wants to make its second-biggest zone after France by 2015.

The company, which has sought to reinvent itself as an upmarket operator, has been stymied by an economic downturn in Europe, which still accounts for 70 percent of its revenue.

$1 = 0.7391 Euros Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; editing by Jane Baird

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