Eagle Football Holdings Bidco Limited (“Eagle Football”), a London-based group founded by digital entrepreneur and football enthusiast John Textor with interests in English Premier League club, Crystal Palace, Brazil Serie A Club, Botafogo de Futebol e Regatas, and Belgium First Division B Club, RWD Molenbeek, today announced that it has acquired on December 19, 2022 a significant controlling stake in Olympique Lyonnais Groupe SA (“OL”). Long-term Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of OL, Jean-Michel Aulas, will continue to oversee OL’s diverse sports and entertainment organisation and will become a director of Eagle Football Holdings Limited. As part of the transaction, Eagle Football will file as soon as practicable, on behalf of the concert with Holnest, a simplified cash tender offer for the shares and OSRANEs it does not own at the price of €3 per share and €265.57 per OSRANE.
Eagle Football Group was established to create a unique model of football ownership, focusing on historic, top-level clubs in major markets, fostering collaboration between clubs and communities to improve fan enjoyment and strengthen competitive outcomes.
In connection with the transaction, funds managed by leading global alternative investor Ares Management (“Ares”), as well as highly experienced investors Iconic Sports and Elmwood Partners, have invested in Eagle Football Holdings Limited. Members of the investment consortium were selected for their specific and meaningful experience in the ownership and development of sporting organisations, as well as in technology and entertainment.
Eagle Football believes its approach is unique within the multi-club landscape, having acquired interests in clubs that are community-centric, academy and development focused, and located in markets that offer specific advantages in talent identification and player migration. The fans of Eagle Football clubs are already enjoying the cross-border family of clubs and communities, reaching out to each other across social media, wearing the kits of their ‘brother clubs’, and sharing ideas about talent collaboration.
John Textor stated, “Today is a new beginning for Olympique Lyonnais, an historic club that truly deserves a global stage. With the #1 women’s program in the world and a men’s program that should expect again to fight for championships, Jean-Michel Aulas has built a world-class organisation of which the City of Lyon and its passionate fans can be proud. I look forward to many years of partnership with Jean-Michel as we work together to meet the high expectations of our supporters.”
Mr. Textor continued, “I would like to call our supporters attention to the key backers of Eagle Football without whose help this investment would not have been possible. The ownership experience of both Iconic Sports and Ares in global professional sports, including football, means they bring much more than just capital to our family of clubs. In addition, the technology and consumer-apps experience of Elmwood Partners will help us to set new standards for the future of fan enjoyment.”
Jamie Dinan, of Iconic Sports, Eagle Football’s lead equity investor for the OL transaction, added, “John is a visionary who has built an era-defining platform, and together we have a sophisticated strategic vision, business plan and growth strategy for Eagle Football, which we believe will position our clubs for competitive success and create value for all of our stakeholders. We are thrilled to partner with John and the other investors to build the resources necessary to fight for the titles that we know our fans expect.”
Mark Affolter, a Partner in Ares’ Sports, Media and Entertainment strategy, said, “Ares is excited to support Eagle Football’s differentiated approach to building and growing leading football clubs. As long-term investors with significant experience across global markets and professional sports franchises, we look forward to providing our flexible capital and market insights to help the teams deliver incredible experiences for fans around the world.”
The Raine Group is serving as lead financial advisor for the purchase of OL by Eagle Football. DLA Piper LLP is serving as legal counsel, and Index Atlas Group is serving as strategic and financial advisor, to Eagle Football. Tifosy Capital & Advisory is serving as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal counsel, to Iconic Sports. Proskauer Rose LLP is serving as legal counsel to Ares. Covington & Burling LLP is serving as legal counsel to Elmwood.
About John Textor/Eagle Football Holdings
Mr. Textor is a globally recognized, pioneer and developer of disruptive technologies, creative content, and digital distribution business models for media, entertainment and the internet. Mr. Textor created Eagle Football Group to consolidate, and strengthen the collaboration across, his ownership interests in the notable football clubs Crystal Palace (London UK), Botafogo (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil) and RWD Molenbeek (Brussels, Belgium), and following its acquisition announced today, Olympique Lyonnais, a Ligue 1 club based in Lyon.
About Iconic Sports
Formed in 2021, Iconic Sports is an investment group comprised of James G. Dinan, Founder of York Capital Management and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association; Alexander Knaster, Founder of Pamplona Capital and owner of Pisa Sporting Club; Edward Eisler, Founder of Eisler Capital; and Tifosy Capital & Advisory, a leading London-based boutique sports advisory firm. The founders of Iconic Sports bring together a powerful combination of decades of experience, industry relationships and global expertise across sports, finance and management in the United States and Europe.
About Ares Management
Ares Management Corporation (NYSE: ARES) is a leading global alternative investment manager offering clients complementary primary and secondary investment solutions across the credit, private equity, real estate and infrastructure asset classes. We seek to provide flexible capital to support businesses and create value for our stakeholders and within our communities. By collaborating across our investment groups, we aim to generate consistent and attractive investment returns throughout market cycles. As of September 30, 2022, Ares Management Corporation’s global platform had approximately $341 billion of assets under management, with over 2,450 employees operating across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. For more information, please visit www.aresmgmt.com.