The president of Prisa, Javier Monzón, has announced the call for this Friday afternoon of an extraordinary council of the media company to present its irrevocable resignation after the request for dismissal by the main shareholder, the Amber fund, which controls the 30% of the company, with the backing of Telefónica, which has 10% of the shareholders. The request for dismissal has been supported by 52% of the shareholders at the Meeting held this Friday.
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The fall of Monzón is the second part of a war for control of the media company between the owner of the Amber fund, Joseph Oughourlian, and the president of Banco Santander, Ana Botín, with 4% of Prisa but with the support of another group of investors such as the Polancos, Roberto Alcántara, Carlos Slim or the HSBC bank. Monzón is president of Openbank, Santander’s digital banking subsidiary.
Monzón explained at the Meeting: “Two hours before the start of the meeting I have met a relevant shareholder who was going to request my dismissal or to present my resignation. I have met another relevant shareholder who supported the proposal. I have had the opportunity to speak with other shareholders and I have concluded that none were aware of this matter. Although this request does not correspond to the majority of the share capital, if the proposal is approved, I have concluded that my obligation as chairman to convene a council for this afternoon and present my irrevocable resignation “.
The secretary of the board has read that the reasons given by the fund controlled by Joseph Oughourlian for the request for the departure of Botín’s henchman are due to the fact that Monzón “does not share the business vision” of the shareholders or the roadmap designed to divide the company into two, a media company and another with Santillana’s book publishing.
Monzón has defended himself against Amber’s accusations by ensuring that “it is not true that he does not share this strategic vision”, since he had achieved that the separation of the company’s businesses was accepted by the council, as stated in the roadmap of the company.
Banco Santander won the first battle to keep Monzón at the head of Prisa at the General Shareholders’ Meeting that was held on June 29. The vote in said Board confirmed with 62.28% of votes in favor the man of Ana Patricia Botín in Prisa. On that date, Telefónica chose not to open a war with the rest of the shareholders and voted in favor of Monzón continuing as the top non-executive director of the media conglomerate, but on the condition that Monzón leave the company on his own accord in September, a situation that finally did not happen.
The request for resignation has been a surprise. In this extraordinary meeting, the sale of Santillana Spain was really going to be decided, which has been approved without problems to the Finnish company Samona Corporation for 465 million euros, an amount that will be fully paid in cash on the closing date of the operation, once discounting the net debt as of June 30, estimated at about 53 million. In 2019, Santillana globally had a turnover of 628 million euros and reached an Ebitda of 175 million, figures that did not prevent Prisa from closing the year with losses of 182 million euros.
With the sale of the Santillana Spain business, which represents 21% of the Santillana Group’s business, the company was able to remove part of the debt slab thanks to a new pact with financial entities after dedicating 400 million to amortize the liability, which at the end of March 2020 it amounted to 1,067 million. The debt refinancing agreement involves extending its maturity until March 2025, with an initial cost of 5.5% and an average total cost of 7% during the life of the contract. With this operation, the company announced that the framework for a future effective separation of the Education and Media businesses was established.