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Ares Weighs Joining Bid for French Football Team Lyon

·2 min read

(Bloomberg) -- Ares Management Corp. is considering financing US entrepreneur John Textor’s proposed offer for Olympique Lyonnais, the French Ligue 1 football team, people with knowledge of the matter said.

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The alternative asset manager is in talks about potentially backing Textor’s bid for the French club’s owner OL Groupe SA, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Textor has been seeking additional capital after US investor Bill Foley indicated he may significantly scale back his funding commitment to the deal, the people said.

Shares of OL Groupe jumped as much as 14% in Wednesday morning trading. They were up 9.8% to 2.69 euros at 11:40 a.m. in Paris, the biggest gain in three months. The company is still trading below Textor’s proposed bid of 3 euros per share.

Ares said last month it has raised $3.7 billion to invest in sports, media and entertainment, more than twice its original target. The fund, which will invest across the capital structure in both debt and equity, has already made commitments to portfolio companies including Atletico de Madrid football club, McLaren Racing and the San Diego Padres baseball team.

OL Groupe announced in June that Textor had entered exclusive talks to buy a majority stake in the company and was aiming to reach a deal as soon as September. The transaction could value OL Groupe at nearly 800 million euros ($797 million).

Textor’s discussions over the takeover of Lyon have entered a critical phase as he seeks sign-offs from a group of lending banks, Bloomberg News reported last week. He’s been in negotiations over last-minute demands from some of the banks that remain unresolved, people familiar with the matter said at the time.

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Foley’s Cannae Holdings Inc. signed a commitment letter in June proposing to provide Textor a credit facility of as much as 523 million euros for the acquisition. Cannae said at the time that the credit facility might be converted into equity in the holding company for Textor’s sports investments at terms that still needed to be agreed.

No final decisions have been made, and there’s no certainty the discussions with Ares will lead to an agreement, the people said. Textor declined to comment, as did representatives for Ares and OL Groupe. Cannae didn’t immediately respond to queries.

(Updates with share reaction in third paragraph)

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