| PARIS, April 19
PARIS, April 19 AccorHotels said on
Wednesday its board opposed an attempt by a group of
shareholders to scrap the granting of any further double voting
rights to long-term investors.
A group of 14 investors accounting for 2.3 percent of the
capital of Europe's largest hotel group and led by PhiTrust, a
Paris-based investment firm, have put forward a resolution to
reinstate the "one share, one vote" principle at the company's
annual general meeting (AGM) on May 5.
"Following deliberation, the board of directors unanimously
resolved not to approve this resolution," AccorHotels said in a
"The board emphasised that the value attributed to
shareholder loyalty and stability which this double voting
rights mechanism for shareholders registered for at least two
years contributes to encourage," it added.
The resolution will, however, be submitted to the AGM,
though not as one approved by the board.
PhiTrust has led for years a battle against a law passed by
the French socialist government to automatically award double
voting rights to long-term "reference" shareholders - a move
aimed at deterring short-termism at companies and investors.
The rule, known as the Florange Law, automatically installs
that system unless shareholders specifically reject it.
It is known as the Florange Law because the government of
President François Hollande adopted the measure in 2014 after
battling with the Luxembourg-based steel giant ArcelorMittal
over the company's closing of a mill in Florange, France.
In a statement earlier this month, PhiTrust said that given
the participation rate at the 2016 AccorHotels AGM was 66
percent, adopting the "one share, one vote" principle would
"avoid a reference shareholder ultimately being able to use the
double voting rights system to exercise a blocking minority vote
at shareholders' meetings without having to launch a compulsory
takeover bid and without paying the related price".
PhiTrust's resolution did not propose canceling existing
double voting rights held as of May 5.
Chinese group Shanghai Jin Jiang is AccorHotels' biggest
shareholder with 12.58 percent of the shares and 11.22 percent
of the voting rights, having built its stake since early 2016.
Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) owns a 10.36 percent stake
and Saudi Arabia's Al Waleed Bin Talal a 5.79 percent stake
since summer 2016.
The only reference shareholders currently holding double
voting rights are investment firm Eurazeo, with 4.3
percent of the capital and 8 percent of the voting rights, and
former managers and founders, with 2.2 percent of the capital
and 3.8 percent of the voting rights.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Mark Potter)