(combines AGM decisions, adds details)
By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS May 5 The shareholders of AccorHotels
on Friday granted former French President Nicolas
Sarkozy a seat on the board of Europe's largest hotel group, and
rejected a bid to block long-term shareholders from getting more
double voting rights.
Chairman and CEO Sebastien Bazin reiterated at the annual
shareholders meeting that double voting rights were a good way
to foster loyalty and stability among shareholders.
"We have a solid and extremely diversified shareholder
basis," he said.
Europe's largest hotel group has seen some big changes in
its shareholder base recently, with investors from China, Saudi
Arabia and Qatar now holding a combined 29 percent stake.
Soon, these shareholders - which include Chinese competitor
Shanghai Jin Jiang - could qualify for double voting
rights under the company 's rules.
This led critics, including French shareholder advisory
group Proxinvest, to say this could give them more control over
the company without having to pay a premium for that advantage.
Proxinvest had advised a group of 14 shareholders, led by
Paris-based investment firm PhiTrust and representing 2.3
percent of AccorHotels's capital, which had filed a proposal to
block the further granting of double voting rights.
The proposal needed a two-thirds majority to be approved but
received just 52.36 percent of the votes cast at the meeting.
Chinese group Jin Jiang is Accor's biggest investor with
12.58 percent of the shares and 11.22 percent of the voting
rights, having built its stake since late 2015.
French media reports in June 2016 that the Chinese firm
could gradually seek to gain more control over Accor drove
President Francois Hollande to state publicly that AccorHotels
should retain a diverse group of shareholders. [nL8N18Y2SE)
Sarkozy also chairs the newly created international strategy
committee of AccorHotels. His board appointment was announced in
Bazin on Friday quashed speculation that Sarkozy's
nomination could be a way to help limit Jin Jiang's influence.
"Nicolas Sarkozy is not in any way a brake (to Jin Jiang),
his nomination is not related to our Chinese shareholder," he
Sarkozy, who led France for five years from 2007, lost his
bid for another presidential term in November after coming third
in the primaries of his centre-right party.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, Editing by Sarah White)