OL soon to be under the American flag

Info RMC Sport – The soap opera around the takeover of OL is progressing: there are now three (American) offers left out of the five received by the club. It is a question of buying back 40% of the capital. Jean-Michel Aulas will remain in charge.

The file around the takeover of OL is still in progress and the options are being refined. According to our information, the Lyon club has received five offers. Three remain in the race today, all American. It is a question of buying 40% of the capital of Olympique Lyonnais: the shares of Pathé and IDG, on sale since March 8 and the placing on the market, via a press release, by these two reference shareholders of their respective shares (19.36 for Pathé and 19.85 for IDG). With a large financial offer which will allow Lyon to benefit from a large margin of maneuver for its future investments.

Gillett not on pole

Among the three offers would be that of Foster Gillett, even if this option is not on pole. Originally from Colorado, the 45-year-old is the son of George Gillett, who owned Liverpool between 2007 and October 2010. During this period Foster Gillett served as director of the English club. The family had sold its shares in October 2010 after disagreements with other shareholders. He was also the general manager of Booth Creek Management Corporation in Colorado, a company that manages ski resorts, and was also involved with a NASCAR team, Richard Petty Motorsports, until 2010. A few months ago, Gillett was also in discussions with the owners of Derby County to take control of the club, which has just been relegated to League One (British third division).

An American pension fund, close to the world of basketball and the NBA, is very interested in the presence of Tony Parker at OL. This offer would be very well placed compared to the others. Negotiations are underway and the process promises to be quite long.

A name filtered regularly for a few days: John Textor. He had also confirmed, in the podcast “Off the pitch”, that he wanted to extend his network from Botafogo and Molenbeek or Crystal Palace. Without mentioning OL, all eyes were on this club. He did a good tour of the stadium.

Aulas won’t leave

Jean-Michel Aulas, the boss of Olympique Lyonnais, is currently in the maneuver. And he himself admitted it during a meeting of the Professional Football League by videoconference, justifying his physical absence by the fact that he is in “the final phase of the sale of club shares”. The current president of OL will not leave once the file is closed. Legally, Jean-Michel Aulas is obliged to remain in charge between four and seven years.

The amount of the transaction is not known at this time. We can imagine that the sums involved are considerable since in 2016, when the Chinese group IDG bought 20% of the club against a check for 100 million euros, the valuation of OL Group amounted to 500 million.

A priority in the negotiation of future governance, Jean-Michel Aulas has always had in mind to carry out the same operation as in 1999, when the Pathé group entered the club for 100 million francs, while leaving power to the one who took over OL in the second division in 1987. The whole issue of the current negotiations is to bring in fresh money while retaining control. Since that date, the group has been 27.72% owned by Holnest – the family office of Jean Michel Aulas – 19.36% by Pathé and 19.86% by IDG. More than 33% are scattered among small shareholders, not counting other minor participations of historic Lyon personalities.

An attractive global project for an American businessman

The club has certainly suffered from the pandemic and contracted a significant PGE, but its material assets (Groupama Stadium, Décines training center, Academy located in Meyzieu and related trading, women’s football franchise in the USA with OL Reign, participation in the male and female ASVEL…) is growing, with in particular the future LDLC Arena, the financing of which was recently tied up. With its recurring income in terms of concerts, ASVEL Euroleague matches and “esports” meetings, OL is attractive for an American businessman with a recurrence of sports business and entertainment. Not to mention the seminars. If, at the start, the sale concerns nearly 40% of the “historic” shares of Pathé and IDG, it could then become more important and exceed 50%. The club, for its part, refuses to comment.

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