Trio Of French Businessmen Confirm Exclusive Talks Over Le Monde

A group of three French businessmen Monday said that newspaper publisher Groupe Le Monde’s supervisory board has accepted exclusive talks to sell them a majority stake in the struggling newspaper. The paper chose the consortium formed by businessman Pierre Berge, Lazard banker Matthieu Pigasse and Internet entrepreneur Xavier Niel, the three businessmen said in a joint statement. The consortium said it aims to recapitalize the newspaper and restructure its debt by Sept. 30. In the meantime, a EUR 10m credit facility is to be granted before July 5. The choice for the trio was expected after French telecommunications giant France Telecom SA earlier Monday said it is withdrawing its offer. The decision to withdraw came after the paper’s journalists on Friday supported the offer made by Berge, Pigasse and Niel. France Telecom had been bidding for Groupe Le Monde along with Groupe SFA PAR founder Claude Perdriel and Spanish media group Promotora de Informaciones SA. Le Monde’s management put a majority stake in the company up for sale to repay debt of EUR 100m

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