Thursday, September 16, 2010

Parisien. The Dassault solution

It is common knowledge that President Sarkozy will never let the Parisien fall into hostile hands. It is the reason why I never believed in a foreign solution. The fall of David Montgomery, chairman of the press group Mecom makes it even more unlikely. Montgomery has always been interested by French newspapers, considering probably that their poor management left a lot of opportunities for improvement. Now, he is gone and his successors will probably look elsewhere for quick profit.
Sarkozy has two friends willing to invest in newspapers, Bolloré and Dassault. It appears that Bolloré proved too stingy for the taste of the sellers, Amaury family. So, what about Dassault? He certainly has enough cash to buy the regional daily of Ile de France and its companion, the national Aujourd'hui en France. His team includes competent managers, headed by Francis Morel, who proved fairly efficient with le Figaro.
As for synergies, things look a bit awkward. The delivery network owned by le Parisien could prove useful for le Figaro in Ile de France but Figaro's printing unit is probably not big enough to produce two morning dailies. It means that the eventual buyer would have to keep Saint Ouen, the printing unit of le Parisien, an unwelcome prospect.
Still, Serge Dassault who wants to get back his job as mayor of Corbeil and intends to keep his position at the Senate has a strong incentive to own the regional newspaper. He only needs to offer a decent price to Amaury family. The sellers expected 200 million euros. It is said that Bolloré offered 50 million. Would a 100 million offer make the deal? We'll know pretty soon.