Oughourlian clings to Prisa’s chair supported by a precarious majority

Just two months ago, the permanence of Joseph Oughourlian at the head of Grupo Prisa was not in the plans of the founder of Amber Capital. Or at least that’s what it looked like. The manager, who has in his hands the 29,8% of the publishing group, he assured then, after occupying the position on an interim basis, that the succession process of his predecessor, Javier MonzonIt would be “very transparent” and in consensus with “all the directors and shareholders.” The situation now is different. Oughourlian wears weeks trying to gather the maximum support among the main shareholders of the company, without success. Predictably, the Board of Directors will ratify Amber’s representative in the presidency this afternoon, with the support of a selected group of administrators linked to the activist fund itself and to Telefónica.

In fact, of the twelve members of the Council, Oughourlian will only have the effective endorsement of Amber’s representatives, including himself, plus the two French advisers Dominique Dhinnin y Beatrice De Clermont-Tonnerre. These will be joined by the two directors who entered after the December crisis and who were agreed upon by mutual agreement with Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, president of Telefónica, as they are Rousauro Varo and Javier Santiso. It so happens that, just a month ago, within Telefónica they considered it more convenient for one of these two new administrators to assume the non-executive chairmanship of Prisa, as independent directors.


Over the past month, Joseph Oughourlian has lost support, both among the group’s shareholders, as well as on the Board. As regards the highest governing body, Manuel Polanco, representative of the founding family of the media group, has been opposed to the validation of the president’s appointment, understanding that it was Amber’s own representative who, from the outset, affirmed that they would seek, for the definitive replacement of Monzón, to an institutional president, who was not representing any of the company’s reference partners.

Oughourlian insisted last December that the replacement in the presidency would be transparent: “The idea is to put a very institutional and very independent person.”

The acting president of the publishing group insisted in an interview conducted last December in ‘El País’, Grupo Prisa’s main newspaper: “Now a transition period is beginning and I want to get along well.” Among the priorities that Oughourlian coined to seal the Monsoon relay were transparency and the consensus of the process: “I want to do something very well done, very open.” Similarly, the businessman of Armenian origin was clear in his idea about the future president at the helm of the publishing group: “The idea is to put a very institutional and very independent person because we know perfectly well that the person of the president of the company sends a very important message both to the exterior and to the interior and the independence of our media is absolutely key “.

Oughourlian arrived at the same Board of Directors that this Tuesday will ratify him as president of the company, as proprietary director, supported by the investment fund Amber Capital. This same ‘head funds’ forced the departure of Monzón, at the end of last year, in an extraordinary general meeting that, in principle, did not include the vote for the change of president on the agenda. The cessation of Monzón was approved by a narrow margin, with the backing of the 52,2% of a board in which only the 84,5% of the group capital. At the meeting, it was decided that Oughourlian, until then vice president and counselor representing Amber, would assume the acting presidency. For a while now, Oughourlian’s strategy has taken a substantial turn, culminating in his official appointment as president from the company this afternoon.

From now on a new stage opens in Prisa that will foreseeably be characterized by the corporate agreements that Amber and the new French shareholders of Vivendi may carry out, with 10% of the capital. The multinational gala has tried to secure the support of the Government to expand its shareholding positions in Prisa until reaching a share of 20% of the capital compared to the 10% it currently owns. Telefónica’s role will be one of the unknowns to be cleared up in the future, since the operator has not maintained a fixed position as a reference shareholder. It should be remembered that in June, the company chaired by Álvarez-Pallete supported the renewal of Javier Monzón as president and, only half a year later, voted her impeachment in favor of Amber.

From this moment, Oughourlian will manage the company with the support of the CEO Manuel Mirat, who, in theory, has all the executive powers, however, the evolution of events and the leading role adopted by Amber, suggest that the investor Armenian will have a specific power in major strategic decisionsNot in vain, the Prisa drift has been oriented for a long time by the interests of the activist fund, highlighting in this sense, the separation of the businesses into two differentiated management units; one related to the media, and another made up of the assets of the education activity nucleated around Santillana. Oughourlian has inherited a healthy company after the debt refinancing carried out last year, and has warned of possible changes within the company in the immediate future. In this sense, the new president of Prisa has opted to promote the digitization of radio and add an audiovisual division.

Source: LA INFORMACIÓN – Lo último by www.lainformacion.com.

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