Billionaire and Du Pont family member John Textor is set to officially take over Olympique Lyonnais (OL), or the Lyon football club, for $846 million.
The deal comes at a time of intense bidding across the sport, due to the influx of deep-pocketed American investors.
What Happened: On Dec. 10, Textor's firm — Eagle Football — confirmed that the official closing is expected to take place by Dec. 19, and that "all conditions have been satisfied to complete the transaction."
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The announcement comes after multiple delays. Earlier this month, Textor explained that he needed the shareholders of another club he owns, Crystal Palace, to agree to the OL deal as part of a prerequisite for Premier League approval.
In November, Textor had to meet with the French regulatory body, Direction Nationale du Contrôle de Gestion, to finalize terms. Since June, when the former FuboTV executive first announced his intention to buy OL, the closing was postponed first in September and again in October.
On the sell-side is Holnest, the family office of Jean-Michel Aulas, which has owned Olympique Lyonnais since 1987. Pathé and IDG also sold their stakes.
As of Sept. 30, OL ticketing revenue spiked about 45% in 2022 to €10.1 million.
Why It Matters: Textor, through his firm Eagle Football, also purchased Brazil's Botafogo (for an estimated $60 million); holds a 41% stake in Crystal Palace (for about $121.34 million); and Belgian second-tier club RWD Molenbeek.
He's just one of many wealthy American investors circling football clubs abroad due to the low barrier for entry. When it comes to the U.S.-based National Football League (NFL), private equity firms are not allowed to bid for ownership. Also, there are only 32 — very expensive — teams in the NFL.
Overseas, where the U.S. dollar is significantly stronger than other currencies, American investors have their pick of many franchises that are much cheaper. Recall last year when Oaktree Capital acquired a stake in Inter Milan ($336 million); Ares Management purchased a piece of La Liga's Atlético ($217 million); and 777 Partners bought Serie A club Genoa ($150 million).
That trend continued in 2022:
- Los Angeles-based Ares Management and Genstar Capital's Jean-Pierre Conte provided backing to Textor on the Lyon acquisition.
- Los Angeles Dodgers owner Todd Boehly bought Chelsea FC for $5.4 billion. Boehly also owns of Vivid Seats Inc SEAT and Sportradar Group SRAD.
- RedBird Capital Partners acquired AC Milan.
- Sixth Street Partners invested $380 million into Real Madrid.
The Premiere League’s Manchester United MANU and Liverpool, valued at $4.6 billion and $4.5 billion, respectively, are both currently for sale.
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