The Wendel family faced with a historic choice

On Wednesday, at the general meeting of the tricentennial Wendel family, Priscilla de Moustier put a major decision in the hands of the 1,170 family shareholders of Wendel: sell shares and leave the ship, or take full control of their family destiny. A choice that was only made once, during the nationalization.

Ernest-Antoine Seillière had been implicated by part of the family, along with other managers, for having taken 4.5% of Wendel's capital through a complex arrangement.

The ballet of blue, red and green badges, markers of each of the three Wendel family branches, has disappeared since the stormy general meeting of the family company in 2008. Wednesday, despite the rainy weather that marred the spring event of the first family of France, the 1,170 Wendel descendants, it was officially time for concord at the Pavillon Dauphine in Paris in the 16th arrondissement.

Eleven years ago, the cousinades had turned into a storm. Sophie Boegner, administrator of the SLPS (now Wendel Participations) with the blue badge, had filed a complaint against X for “abuse of corporate assets and concealment”, targeting the conductor of the recovery of Wendel, Ernest-Antoine Seillière. Along with other group leaders, he had been blamed for having taken 4.5% of Wendel’s capital through a complex arrangement. The “rebel” had been dismissed in full general assembly of June 11. “Between the thirty or so large shareholders, who have imposed their wealth strategy, favoring the discount to reduce the ISF, and the youngest, who want liquidity and sell securities valued at the highest, the debate is insoluble”, recognized that day Priscilla de Moustier, administrator at the SLPS, with the red badge, in “Challenges”.

Make body

On Wednesday, the daughter of Pierre Celier, the one without whom the Wendel adventure would have ended in 1978, during the nationalization, and who became the president of the family company, made them precisely an unprecedented proposal: to have Wendel Participations bought out. actions of family members who wish to opt out.

Such a choice had only been presented to them once in family history, when her father offered to revive Wendel from the ashes in the late 1970s. And the idea, today as it did in the past. period, is that the heirs decline the offer. Let them come together now that Wendel is sailing in calmer waters, after having notably broken with a very offensive strategy that had led him to the attempted takeover by the hussar of Saint-Gobain in the late 2000s.

Takeover of the interior

On the governance side too, the complete overhaul in early 2018, with the chairmanship of Priscilla de Moustier, put an end to months of tension between François de Wendel – his predecessor at the head of the family holding company – and the chairman of the management board of Wendel, Frédéric Lemoine. Too fast, too direct, quick to think big, the one who was ready to open the doors of Wendel to other families resigned in September 2017.

The family has since taken its destiny back in hand: Nicolas ver Hulst, the chairman of the supervisory board, descends directly from the Wendel family, and the appointment of André François-Poncet to the management board has reconnected with the family tradition that the management necessarily falls to a member of the family galaxy. The Chairman of the Management Board reports to Marie-Thérèse François-Poncet, daughter of Marguerite de Wendel and wife of her uncle, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-François-Poncet.