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Arnaud Nourry, in disagreement with the group’s strategy, dismissed from his functions as CEO of Hachette Livre

Hachette Livre CEO Arnaud Nourry was dismissed on Monday from his post at the head of the world’s third largest publishing group by his shareholder Arnaud Lagardère, against a background of disagreement over the future of the company coveted by the businessman Vincent Bolloré.

According to a press release from the Lagardère group, Arnaud Nourry “leaves the group as part of an amicable separation”, and was replaced by the co-manager and general secretary of Lagardère Pierre Leroy, who will be assisted by the general secretary of Hachette Livre Fabrice Bakhouche, appointed deputy managing director.

CEO since 2003, Mr. Nourry had recently declared himself opposed to the dismantling of Hachette Livre or to a merger with its competitor Editis, owned by media giant Vivendi, controlled by the Bolloré group and which last year became the largest shareholder of Lagardère.

“These 18 years have enabled us, together, to promote Hachette Livre to the four corners of the world”, wrote Monday evening the leader to the directors of his publishing houses (including Grasset, Fayard or Calmann Lévy), without going over the reasons for his departure.

“I will not let anyone damage Hachette Livre” declared Arnaud Nourry to Les Échos at the end of February. “There is no possible cohabitation between us and Editis (property of Vivendi), less profitable, it does not make strategic sense and it is legally impossible,” he added.

The boss of the third largest publisher in the world went even further, claiming“a culture of non-interventionism” necessary according to him “to have talents like David Shelley in the United Kingdom, who became the editor of JK Rowling, or Sophie de Closets at Fayard in France who recovered the rights (for) France of Barack Obama’s book” , a way of opposing the interventionism sometimes reproached to Mr. Bolloré in his media. Last week in Le Monde, the leader outbid, saying he wanted to stay in the Lagardère group.

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“This announcement should not be over-interpreted” and necessarily see it as a future sale or dismantling of the group, warned a source close to Lagardère, contacted by AFP.

Hachette Livre resisted the economic consequences of the health crisis in 2020, posting stable sales at 2.4 billion euros, and operating income up 12%.

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