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Aulas group agrees deal to buy LDLC Arena

Featured image credit: Populous

Jean-Michel Aulas, the former president of Olympique Lyonnais, has agreed a deal with the Ligue 1 club’s owners to buy the recently opened LDLC Arena.

Eagle Football Group, which owns Lyon and the arena, has announced today (Thursday) that an agreement has been reached with Aulas’ Holnest company and a group of investors and institutions for the sale of all shares in OL Vallée Arena, the company which operates LDLC Arena.

The deal values OL Vallée Arena at around €160m (£136m/$174m) and is expected to close on June 12. Eagle Football Group said the agreement is in line with its strategy to solely focus on Lyon’s football operation and reduce debt.

The Populous-designed LDLC Arena, which is located near Lyon’s Groupama Stadium, opened in November. With a capacity of 16,000 for concerts and roughly 12,000 for sporting events, it is the largest arena in France outside of Paris.

LDLC Arena cost €141m to build and serves as the home of basketball team LDLC ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne. Last month, it was announced that the arena will be one of the host venues during the 2028 Ice Hockey World Championship, alongside Accor Arena in Paris.

It was reported in April that Aulas had entered into exclusive discussions with Eagle Football Group, formerly OL Groupe, to purchase the arena. Aulas stepped aside from his role at OL Groupe in December.

Lyon was bought by US technology entrepreneur John Textor in December 2022 in a deal reportedly worth more than €800m, ending Aulas’ 36-year ownership of the club. Before LDLC Arena opened, Textor revealed that he was looking to give up part or full control of the venue as part of wider efforts to shore up Eagle Football Group’s financial position.

“We are delighted to have concluded this agreement with Holnest,” Textor said today. “Since we arrived in Lyon, we have been clear in our plan to dedicate all of our capital and human resources to football.

“Thanks to the investment and passion of Jean-Michel and his new associations, we can focus on our goal to bring European championships to Lyon, while the great contribution of the LDLC Arena will continue to benefit the Lyon metropolitan area and its region for many years to come.”

Aulas added: “I am delighted with this new alliance with John and the daily cooperation with Laurent Prud’homme (Lyon director general), and we are determined to maintain the operational excellence of the LDLC Arena while exploring new opportunities to expand its impact and reach.

“This acquisition marks the beginning of an exciting new phase for LDLC Arena, with Holnest and its partners bringing their expertise and resources to support and develop the space in the years ahead. We’re delighted to have been able to bring together leading institutions within Holarena, including the Conseil Régional, and industrialists from Lyon and Paris, all of whom are renowned in their fields.”