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Arnaud Lagardère, the CEO of Lagardère Sports, has announced on French radio RTL that he wants to buy the Amaury Group to which the Tour de France belongs.
Lagardère succeeded his father Jean-Luc at the head of a powerful holding company in the sectors of defence and media in 2004, and created teams in several sports, such as tennis and swimming. He already owns a few publications, the radio station Europe 1, as well as book and newspaper distribution networks, but wants yet to increase his 25 percent share in the Amaury Group. French sports daily L’Equipe and newspaper Le Parisien are part of Editions Philippe Amaury, as is the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), the events branch which organises the Tour de France, the Dakar rally, and the Paris marathon, among others.
“We are buyers of all or part of this company”, Lagardère said. “But if the family doesn’t want to sell, we’ll respect it and we’ll walk out.” By family, he means the Amaury family: Marie-Odile, the widow of Philippe Amaury, and his children, Aurore and Jean-Etienne, who is currently the president of ASO. They own the remaining 75 percent of the shares.
“I’d prefer to be the owner of Amaury but it’s a family business”, he added. Discussions are underway. “But we don’t want to rush for anything.”
Lagardère hasn’t been involved in cycling yet but he paid a visit at the Tour of Murcia in early March. He was a special guest of Lance Armstrong in the RadioShack team car. Two weeks later Armstrong visited French president Nicolas Sarkozy and offered him a Trek bicycle, but riding a “Madone” was probably not the only subject they talked about. Lagardère is publicly known as a close friend of Sarkozy.
The Amaury Group is yet to react to Lagardère’s offer.