US technology entrepreneur John Textor, through his holding company Eagle Football Holdings, has entered into exclusive negotiations to become the majority stakeholder in OL Groupe, which operates French Ligue 1 football club Olympique Lyonnais.
Eagle Football Holdings would acquire shares currently held by the Aulas family, as well as those held by Pathé and IDG. Textor would assume a 66.5% stake in Lyon, which could rise to 88.55%.
Textor currently has around a 40% stake in English Premier League club Crystal Palace, an 80% stake in Belgian Pro League team RWD Molenbeek, and a 90% stake in Brazilian Campeonato Serie A outfit Botafogo.
The OL Groupe transaction is designed to strengthen the financial structure of the company and allow it to continue investing in its sports teams and infrastructure projects. OL Groupe would benefit from a reserved capital increase of around €86m (£73.8m/$90.8m).
Jean-Michel Aulas would continue to serve as president of OL Groupe for at least three more years. Aulas would also join the management team of Eagle Football Holdings.
During a meeting held yesterday (Monday), OL Groupe’s board of directors welcomed the investment, which they feel would allow the company to achieve important development projects such as the completion of the LDLC Arena.
OL Groupe last month announced a financing plan for LDLC Arena, its new multi-purpose venue that will have a capacity of between 12,000 and 16,000. OL Groupe will provide 100% of the financing of the arena, which is expected to cost €141m, and will support the project through its OL Vallée Arena subsidiary.
The LDLC Arena is set to be France’s largest events arena outside of Paris and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2023. It is expected to host between 100 and 120 events a year, including concerts, seminars, trade shows, esports competitions and major sporting events.
The Live Nation-backed arena will host European games played by ASVEL Basket, which became a permanent Euroleague Basketball member in June 2021. OL Groupe holds a 33.3% stake in ASVEL Basket.
Eagle Football Holdings’ transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2022.
Aulas said: “With this project, Olympique Lyonnais is opening a new chapter in its formidable history. For 35 years, my desire has always been to make Olympique Lyonnais a unique model in football, combining sporting and economic success. Our professional football and basketball teams, OL Reign, our mixed academy, Groupama Stadium, as well as the construction of the new LDLC Arena within OL Vallée are already strong markers of OL Groupe’s ambitions.
“The sudden departure of Pathé and IDG nevertheless allowed the arrival of John Textor, capable of accompanying and supporting these same ambitions. This new shareholder will be an accelerator for our current and future projects. I am proud and happy to continue, with the support of John Textor, to write the future of Olympique Lyonnais.”
Textor added: “The project that I discovered in Lyon with Jean-Michel Aulas and all his teams will be at the epicentre of our new organisation and our investments in the service of world football. Olympique Lyonnais will be the cornerstone of our project. I intend, with the support of Jean-Michel and his teams, to bring out the values of development and self-improvement for which I have always been committed.
“I want to give all the fans of Olympique Lyonnais the additional means so that the institution can regain the highest level, in France and in Europe, while respecting the values of OL’s DNA such as youth, work, self-sacrifice and this spirit which allows all the talents of the whole world to have access to the high level thanks to our involvement in the academies.”
Image: Zakarie Faibis/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size