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21 December 20227 minute read

DLA Piper advises Eagle Football on acquisition of controlling stake in Olympique Lyonnais

A DLA Piper team spanning France, the US, the UK, Belgium, and Brazil has advised the Eagle Football group of companies (Eagle Football), a London-based group founded by US digital entrepreneur and football enthusiast John Textor, on Eagle Football Holdings Bidco Limited,  completing its acquisition of a significant controlling stake in Olympique Lyonnais Groupe (OL Groupe), owner of French Ligue 1 football side Olympique Lyonnais on 19 December 2022.

The team advised Eagle Football in acquiring 39,201,514 shares in OL Groupe at EUR3 per share and 789,824 OSRANEs at EUR265.57 price per OSRANEs from its main historic shareholders Pathé, IDG Capital and Holnest. Eagle Football also subscribed to a reserved share capital increase of OL Groupe for a total of EUR86 million.  As such, Eagle Football consequently now owns 77.49% of the share capital of OL Groupe on a non-diluted basis (78.40% of the share capital on a fully-diluted basis and, in concert with Holnest, 86.57% of the share capital on a fully-diluted basis).

DLA Piper advised Eagle Football Holdings Limited on the structured combination of debt and equity funding, provided by leading global alternative investor Ares Management (Ares), as well as highly experienced investors Iconic Sports and Elmwood Partners, and personal capital in financing the acquisition, in addition to the contribution of John Textor’s existing football assets into Eagle Football.  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 Group was established by John Textor 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.  The controlling stake in the group sees Olympique Lyonnais join Eagle Football’s other football interests under one holding group, which includes Premier League side Crystal Palace, Belgian Pro League side RWD Molenbeek and Brazilian Campeonato Serie A side Botafogo, as part of John Textor’s multi-club strategy. The strategy will see Eagle Football continue to implement collaboration across its established and growing ecosystem of high-level clubs, now utilising renowned training and development methodologies of Olympique Lyonnais. DLA Piper has historically advised on Eagle Football’s establishment, its investments and acquisitions across Belgium, Brazil and the UK.

Eagle’s CEO John Textor said: “This cross-border M&A deal seemed to create every imaginable complexity from tax, banking, securities, corporate, and even international football governing bodies. I knew that DLA Piper would get it done and they did so seamlessly. It was a pleasure working with them on this complex transaction.”

Rick Chesley, Co-US Managing Partner at DLA Piper, who led on the transaction, said: “We were delighted to advise Eagle Football on its formation and historic purchase as it adds the French side Olympique Lyonnais to its holdings. Thanks to the reach and cohesion of our global team we were able to work closely across all four jurisdictions to advise on this complex transaction and advise Eagle Football at this exciting time for its global project and for Olympique Lyonnais.”

The transatlantic DLA Piper media, sports and entertainment team, as led by Chesley, included partners Alice Magnan, Jonathan Richards, Lewis Gaut, Simon Charbit, Erwan Lacheteau, Fanny Combourieu, Philippe Danesi and Edouard Sarrazin, Lead Senior Associates Dylan Kennett, Liam Freeman, Fabien Goudot, Shilpa Rajagopal, Charles Abitbol and Louis-Augustin Jourdan, Associates Julie Palumbo, Julian Bajada, Tom Watkins, Freddie De Boise, Brad Osborne, Francesco de Micheli, Maha Gharbi, Matt Davies, Elizabeth Emerson and Gemma Grunewald.

The DLA Piper US team included: Sid Burke, Alex Steinberg, Alex Cavayero, Shmuel Klahr, Frank Mugabi, Christina Houston, Steve Alicanti, Drew Young and Matt Sarna.

The DLA Belgium team was comprised of: Michael Heene, Gilles Leyssen, Pieter Vermeulen, Achille Lemey, Sander Buysse, Sophie Germis and Nicolas Engelmann.

In Brazil, the Campos Mello Advogados (CMA) team in cooperation with DLA Piper was led by partner Jorge Barbieri Gallo and associates Flávia Cavalcanti Ferreira Ramacciotti and Diego Roberto Salas Paes de Barros. Partners Roberto Vianna do R. Barros, Alex Jorge and Victor Kampel, and associates Lucas Bernabé and Laura Kurth were also part of the team.