Will the third time be correct? A new deadline, Monday October 24, has been set for the sale of Olympique Lyonnais (OL) to American billionaire John Textor. The parties give themselves this time until November 17 to complete the operation. The transaction, worth 800 million euros, was first announced for September 30 and then postponed for the first time to October 21. This setback creates a new uncertainty in a process often presented as certain by the different actors in the sale, including Jean-Michel Aulas, president of OL, who has chaired the club since 1987.
Through Eagle Football Holdings LLC, John Textor will acquire all the shares and half of the Osranes (subordinated bonds redeemable for new or existing shares, to be used to finance the construction of Groupama Stadium) held by Holnest, the holding company of the the Aulas family (27.7% of the capital) – plus all the shares and Osranes owned by Pathé (19.3%) – the group chaired by Jérôme Seydoux – and those owned by the Chinese investment fund IDG Equity (19.8 %).
Published before the opening of the financial markets, OL Groupe listed on the stock exchange, a press release states that « Pathé, IDG Capital, Holnest, OL Group and Eagle Football have agreed to set the new completion date for the transaction as November 17, 2022 and interim steps for the signing of final debt and equity financing documentation..
“To date, substantial progress has been made on all the steps necessary to finalize the transaction”ensures OL Groupe in the same text. “If any of these steps were not carried out”she would open “right of termination without prejudice to other rights for the benefit of Pathé, IDG, Holnest and OL Groupe”, also specifies the press release. In other words, the current holders of the club’s capital allow themselves the possibility of interrupting the sale process before November 17 if any of the stages leading to the final conclusion fails.
According to the press release published on Monday, “Eagle Football has advised OL Groupe that advanced discussions are underway with identified debt and equity investors ready to support the transaction”. But “This financing is subject to completion by Eagle Football of detailed documentation, customary clearances (particularly from football authorities) and internal verification procedures of group lenders.” ol, they have “given his consent”which explains that “The operation could not be carried out on October 21”.
To counter the skepticism that has arisen in recent weeks regarding his financing capabilities, John Textor attempted, on the night of 19-20 October, to reassure Lyon supporters in an open letter posted on his website. “Keep in mind that transactions like this can be quite complicated for both buyers and sellers, and it is not uncommon to find obstacles in the way of a transaction. closure that create complexities and delays”writes the American businessman.
In this letter, Mr. Textor, in whom Jean-Michel Aulas has always had his confidence, says “fully ready to finalize the acquisition”alleging that his main financial partner “is ready to fund Eagle Football” to buy the majority stake and provide additional capital to OL Groupe.
Moving from special effects in the cinema to digital creation by artificial intelligence, then to the broadcast of live sporting events, John Textor launched in August 2021 on the football field. He entered the capital of the London club Crystal Palace (Premier League) before becoming, at the beginning of 2022, the majority shareholder of the Brazilian club Botafogo and Molenbeek (Belgian second division). On the other hand, his recent partial acquisition project of Sporting Lisbon failed.
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