relatives, men in the field and heads of state… The African boss network of France – Jeune Afrique

In real-false retirement since mid-February, the Breton billionaire, who is supposed to sell his African port and logistics empire to the MSC, nevertheless maintains interests on the continent. And an influential internal circle that includes former heads of state, trusted men and businessmen.

© Photomontage: Young Africa

Estimated at 5.7 billion dollars, the transaction, which is due to be confirmed by March 31, is undoubtedly one of the highlights of 2022. It should formalize the acquisition of shipowner Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) in the activities of Africa’s Bolloré group in the port and logistics sector. It is a question of the surrender of an empire, patiently built over decades and now contributing 2.3 billion euros to the turnover of 19.7 billion (in 2021) of the Bolloré group.

The latter, which is present in 42 ports through 16 container terminals in particular, employs more than 20,000 people on the continent. Yes Vincent Bollore has officially retired since mid -February and if his daughter Cyrille had taken over at the helm of the group since 2019, the Breton billionaire wouldn’t really have bowed. Under the influence of legal proceedings for alleged corruption cases in Togo and Guinea, he remains influential and remains important relay to Africa.

    © Photomontage: Young Africa

© Photomontage: Young Africa

CEO of the family group since May 2019, Cyrille Bollore, Vincent Bolloré’s third child is the heir. If the father (who officially retired on Feb. 17) remains more involved in the business, it is Cyrille, 36, who leads negotiations with the MSC and especially with Diego Aponte, the son of Gianluigi, founder of the shipowner who takes over Bolloré’s activities. A graduate of Manchester University and Paris-Dauphine, Cyrille, who began her career in 2007 with Bolloré Énergie, is not a regular at the palaces of Africa’s president. This did not deter him from conducting a demining mission in January in Abidjan with Alassane Ouattara, who was annoyed to learn about the assignment in the press.

Yannick BolloreVincent’s youngest son – then Sebastian, considered far from the family business but recalled in March at Compagnie de l’Odet, the holding company of the Bolloré empire – was the CEO of Havas, a global communication colossus, and the chairman of the group’s supervisory board. Canal+, very present in Africa (6.85 million subscribers by the end of 2021). Vivendi is also a shareholder of Multichoice, a major pay-TV player in English-speaking Africa.

Finally, Group Vivendi Africa (GVA), a specialist in home fiber optics, has great ambitions in super -fast internet in Africa and has eight locations on the continent, including Brazzaville, Ouagadougou and Kinshasa, which will open in 2021. GVA was also mentioned by the French group as one of the drivers of Bolloré’s future growth in Africa, after the announcement of the deal with the MSC.

    © Photomontage: Young Africa

© Photomontage: Young Africa

In the corridors of the group’s headquarters in Puteaux, in the Paris region, Philippe Labonne has been dubbed the “heart of the Bolloré reactor” in Africa. Vincent Bolloré’s careful envoy to the continent for several years, the boss of Bolloré Ports and the deputy director of Bolloré Transport & Logistics (BTL) also acted as Cyrille’s right arm in discussions at the MSC. A former auditor with Sitarail and Saga in Ivory Coast, Philippe Labonne has valuable port know-how. Soon to be put into MSC service?

Former consultant and former director of strategic projects at Necotrans, which was partially acquired by BTL in 2017, Patrick Lawson is the other key person in the port sector. Deputy Director of Concessions and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) at Bolloré Ports, he also accompanied Cyrille Bolloré to the MSC negotiations.

Michael Calzaroni, the founder and boss of DGM Conseil, one of the leading public relations firms for CAC 40 companies, has always managed communications for Vincent Bolloré. The latter was one of DGM’s first customers when it was created in 1986. Just apart from his former partner Olivier Labesse, Michel Calzaroni – former communications manager of the CNPF (National Council of French Employers), du Medef’s ancestor – is about to turn a page, however: DGM is in the process of acquiring economic intelligence group Avisa Partners.

    © Photomontage: Young Africa

© Photomontage: Young Africa

If we say Martine Coffi Studer close to Martin Bouygues, historic rival of Vincent Bolloré, the former Minister of Delegate for Communications (2006-2007) and founder of the consulting agency Océan Ogilvy has chaired the board of directors of BTL Côte d’Ivoire since 2014 .The Ivorian’s address book in Abidjan and the sub-region is a valuable asset for the Breton boss.

Active in banking, industry and real estate, the Burkinabè entrepreneur Lassine Diawara has long been dubbed “the man of Bolloré”, promoter of the flagship project – now in a stalemate – of the West African rail loop. Diawara met Bolloré in the late 1980s. “I’m a friend of good and bad days,” he said, citing the French billionaire. Former president of the National Council of Burkinabè employers, he was decisive for Bolloré during Compaoré’s years as Kaboré. Although he remains the head of BTL Burkina Faso, he has begun to withdraw from public affairs over the past two years.

Yes Hamadou Salideputy of the CPDM (ruling party) and chairman of the board of directors (PCA) of Douala International Terminal, was mentioned as Vincent Bolloré’s relay in Cameroon, it was the very careful Aoudou Danjouma, PCA of BTL in the country, which is his real key man. As for Diawara, their meeting began in the late 1980s.

To the head of BTL’s local subsidiaries, Mamadou Racine Sy and Venance Gnigla defend Bolloré’s interests in their respective countries, Senegal and Benin. The first is the boss of King Fahd Palace and the president of the Federation of employers ’organizations of the tourism industry in Senegal (Fopits). The second is the former Delegate Minister in charge of Communications and New Technology Thomas Boni Yayi. In Dakar as in Cotonou, Bolloré set up the performance halls of CanalOlympia, a brand of its subsidiary Vivendi. The concept, launched in 2016 in Cameroon, has been extended to ten countries.

    © Photomontage: Young Africa

© Photomontage: Young Africa

On the continent, the influence of Vincent Bolloré, a devout Catholic, also passes through the Don Bosco congregation network, where his group hopes for philanthropic actions. Salesians of Don Bosco (Society of Saint Francis de Sales) saw many young talent in Africa benefiting from scholarships through the Bolloré 2nd Chance Foundation, some joining the group.

    © Photomontage: Young Africa

© Photomontage: Young Africa

Longtime close friend of Vincent Bolloré and friend of Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara, the former head of state of France Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012) accompanied Cyrille, at the end of January, to Abidjan. As part of legal proceedings against Vincent Bolloré for corruption in Togo and Guinea – his group allegedly favored the re -election of Faure Gnassingbe and the ascension to the power ofAlpha Conde by under-invoicing Havas ’communications services during the presidential campaigns in exchange for port concessions to Lomé and Conakry in 2010 and 2011-witnesses accuse the former French president, was at the Élysée, assisted by his friend. What the interested parties denied.

If French justice accepted the payment of a fine of 12 million euros to close the proceedings against the Bolloré group, it would, according to the press, have rejected the procedure to plead guilty to Vincent Bolloré, which would therefore risk A challenge.

Vincent Bolloré is well acquainted with several presidents on the continent, including Faure Gnassingbe, Denis Sassou-Nguesso at Alassane Ouattara. This is also the case with Paul Biyawhich facilitated its establishment in Cameroon in 1992, by creating the company Coralma, a tobacco-focused subsidiary owned 60% of Bolloré and 40% of Seita (Industrial exploitation company for tobacco and matches).

    © Photomontage: Young Africa

© Photomontage: Young Africa

Some former heads of state are also part of the Breton boss network, though links to some have been stretched. Alpha Condewho has known Vincent Bolloré over the years Lansana Conte while he was an opponent returning from exile and living between Conakry and Paris, he has maintained a close proximity once in power since 2010. This seems to have not happened much since his overthrow in September 2021.

Same thing with the former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagboan ally of Vincent Bolloré who granted him through a joint agreement – to the World Bank’s great dissatisfaction – the concession for the first container terminal in the port of Abidjan in 2004.

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