Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Lyon to float to keep up with the big boys
PARIS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - French champion soccer club Olympique Lyonnais is setting up for a stock-market listing aimed at competing financially with richer European rivals such as Manchester United and Chelsea to buy star players.
Olympique Lyonnais officials remained tight-lipped on
Wednesday on speculation that the listing could take place next
month, after the club filed a reference documemt with the AMF
French financial markets watchdog late on Tuesday.
Olympique Lyonnais have dominated France's soccer scene in
recent years, winning the last five championships in a row.
It will be the first club do float after France earlier this
year amended a law preventing professional sports clubs from
listing on the stock market.
Its chairman and main shareholder, Jean-Michel Aulas, who
led the campaign for the regulations to be eased, gave a few
clues on the listing in a recent interview with bi-weekly
magazine France Football, however.
The highlights of that interview were published on the
club's Web site.
Aulas said that the listing 'will happen before our return
game in the Champions League against Roma (March 6, 2007).'
He also said that he was hoping to raise around 100 million
euros in net funds through the listing and that part of the
funds would notably be used to build a stadium with a crowd
capacity of 60,000.
Under the new French law, soccer clubs are allowed to list
if they can show a strong balance sheet and business plan and
would have to be in a position to afford a modern stadium.
The club, chasing a sixth title at the top of the French
first division this season, boasts high-profile players such as
French international goalkeeper Gregory Coupet and Brazilian
The reference document showed that Olympique Lyonnais
generated revenue of 127.7 million euros, up 39 percent
(excluding income from player transfers) for the 2005/06 fiscal
year ended June 30.
Including this income revenue was 166.1 million euros.
Income from current operations rose 38 percent to 24.4
million while net profit grew 37 percent to 15.9 million.
The document also stated that the main risk to profitability
was the club's dependency on sporting success with 43.1 percent
of its revenue coming from broadcasting rights.
The group is however trying to increase revenue from
diversification, notably merchandising and catering.
The two largest shareholders of Olympique Lyonnais are Aulas
with 50.01 percent, through holding company ICMI, and media
group Groupe Pathe with a 33.34-percent stake.
Aulas, an entrepreneur from the information technology
sector, wants to retain control over more than one-third of the
voting rights after the IPO, the document said.
Many soccer clubs from other major European leagues have
been listed on the stock market for years, with differing
In the last few years, Manchester United and Chelsea,
respectively the second and fifth wealthiest European clubs,