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Summary of French Bollore documentary

For those that understand French, I very much recommend this excellent documentary on Vincent Bolloré. I found it to be quite unbiased, surprisingly.

Disclosure: long a bit of BOL (main thesis being that a full simplification is a catalyst for the unlocking of the NAV which is at ~2X the share price by virtue of the economic share count which stands at around 50% of the total share count, after accounting for the circular ownership loops. The timing is very unclear, but in the meantime NAV is compounded at a decent rate. The author did a very similar exercise as the highly recommended Muddy Waters analysis that came out just months after)

For everyone else, I have summarized the documentary:

  • in France, Vincent Bolloré has the nickname “two-faced smiling killer”
  • Bolloré has a smartphone app counting down the moment he steps down. I think this shows he is obsessed by providing the “right” company to his family successor (whatever that is, importantly it could include a simpler structure)
  • when Bolloré started at the family company after his Rothschild banking experience, he managed to negotiate a 25% wage cut in his family’s rolling paper factory legacy business when the factories faced cyclical headwinds. This is almost unheard of in France and it shows his influencing skills.
  • the name Bolloré in Africa is very famous. Bolloré uses his abundance of smarts, political connections (including personal friends Sarkozy, Hollande* and Macron), capital and synergies from the media business to gain profitable contracts in many African countries

I didn’t build my empire from one franc by being a passive investor, it’s not in my genes, I am an activist. – Vincent Bolloré at the Havas board meeting.

*Although Sarkozy is one of Vincent’s personal friends, the documentary shows an example where a Hollande visit to Africa allegedly helped Bolloré win a bid for a Cameroon port concession.

2 Comments

  1. Thought you might be interested in this presentation on Bollore I put together (we are long)

    http://valuexvail.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/bollore-tindell.pdf

    • I read it a while back and agree. Just like you, I did not need a consultant (Muddy Waters) to get to the same share count.

      You do not mention any upside from structure simplification. I think there is a fair chance (30-50%) that Vincent Bolloré at least merges Odet and Bolloré by the time his successors step up. Thanks to the recent Florange law, Vincent would have absolute voting control over the merged ODET-BOL (that was not the case before). The reason why this event-driven opportunity exists in my belief is primarily because of high uncertainty surrounding the timing of the event.

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