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Lagardère: Sale of sports division to H.I.G. Europe now complete

Lagardère, the France-based conglomerate, has fully finalised the sale of its sports division to H.I.G. Europe, an arm of the international private equity and asset management firm.

Lagardère said that, as part of its strategic refocusing, and as announced on 16 December 2019, it has now finalised the sale.

It was announced at the end of last year that Lagardère planned to sell 75 per cent of the agency to H.I.G. in a deal valuing Lagardère Sports, previously one of the sports industry’s heavyweight players, at just €110m ($118.9m).

A definitive agreement was then announced by H.I.G. Europe in February. At the time, H.I.G. unveiled plans to rebrand the agency as part of the takeover and announced that it would be led by Stefan Felsing, the experienced sports marketing executive who left Lagardère Sports two years ago.

In announcing the completion of the transaction, Lagardère said that the disposal sees it “take a further decisive step in its strategy of concentrating all efforts and resources on developing Lagardère Publishing and Lagardère Travel Retail”.

The Lagardère group has retained a 24.9-per-cent stake in Lagardère Sports.

In 2006, Lagardère acquired the erstwhile Sportfive operation, then a powerhouse in European media and sponsorship rights sales, for an enterprise value of €865m. Lagardère went on to acquire the IEC in Sports and World Sport Group agencies in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Sportfive, IEC and World Sport Group were subsequently housed under the ‘Lagardère Sports’ name in a rebranding exercise undertaken in 2015.

The completion of the sale comes ahead of Lagardère’s annual general meeting on May 5.

French media group Vivendi this week announced that it had acquired a 10.6-per-cent stake in Lagardère. The investment comes as Lagardère continues to be put under intense pressure from activist investor Amber Capital, the investment fund.

Speaking in December last year, Lagardère said that it intended to retain its entire interest in Lagardère Live Entertainment, the producer of music shows and live entertainment in France that has until now fallen under the Lagardère Sports and Entertainment umbrella. Lagardère Live Entertainment is valued at just over €40m.

It was announced at the end of February that the erstwhile Lagardère Sports and Entertainment division generated revenues of €523m in 2019 and recurring Ebit of €66m.

H.I.G. is based in Miami and has US offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta. It also has international affiliate offices in London, Hamburg, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Bogota, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.