Finance

Textor completes takeover of Lyon

US technology entrepreneur John Textor, through his holding company Eagle Football Holdings, has completed his takeover of French Ligue 1 football club Olympique Lyonnais.

In a statement released yesterday (Monday), OL Groupe, which owns Lyon, confirmed that Textor has acquired shares from its main historical shareholders Pathé, IDG Capital and Holnest.

As a result of the transaction, Eagle Football now holds 77.49% of the share capital of OL Groupe on a non-diluted basis. The deal is worth more than €800m (£700m/$850m), according to the AFP news agency.

Textor also holds a 40% stake in English Premier League club Crystal Palace and an 80% stake in Belgian Pro League team RWD Molenbeek, as well as a 90% stake in Brazilian Campeonato Série A outfit Botafogo.

Textor entered into exclusive negotiations to become OL Groupe’s majority shareholder back in June. At the time, OL Groupe’s board of directors welcomed the investment, which they felt would allow the company to achieve important development projects such as the completion of the LDLC Arena.

After completing the deal, Textor said: “Today represents a new beginning for Olympique Lyonnais. After four months of constructive negotiations marked by a common understanding with Jean-Michel Aulas (Lyon president) and all our partners, we are proud to reach this exceptional agreement.

“It will be a milestone in the history of European and international soccer development, thanks to the combination within one structure, Eagle Football, of our interests in football clubs with a rich culture and decades of experience: Olympique Lyonnais, Crystal Palace, Botafogo and RWD Molenbeek.”

Aulas, who will become an independent director of Eagle Football, added: “I will stay for a minimum of three years as president, with almost the same powers, and we will work with John in a very common way. It must also be said that John, who ensured that the operations were successful, brought a lot with not only major investors, but American partners who are among the most prestigious. 

“There is international recognition of the OL model. That is why we have managed to maintain this balance, to ensure that there is no change, in the service not only of continuity, but also of ambition, since a certain number of new means have already been introduced. 

“I spoke with John so that there was this communion around OL and that we find what was the basis of the development of our club, that is to say a union, a close-knit family and then totally common ambitions. We will go with John to present all this to our groups of supporters in the first days of 2023.”

OL Groupe’s LDLC Arena is scheduled to open by the end of 2023. With a capacity of 16,000, it will be the largest indoor arena in France outside of Paris.

LDLC Arena is expected to host between 100 to 120 events per year, including basketball games played by LDLC ASVEL, as well as futsal, tennis, esports and music concerts. Populous revealed designs for the arena in October.