US investment fund Oaktree Capital and French TV and video producer Pierre-Antoine Capton said on Monday they had taken over struggling Ligue 2 club Caen.
The new owners said the takeover “marks a turning point in the history of Stade Malherbe Caen and forges strong sporting ambitions for the 2020/2021 season”.
The statement said Oaktree, a Los Angeles-based fund which specialises in distressed debt, and Capton, founder of the Paris-based audiovisual production company Third Eye, had acquired 100 percent of Caen without specifying how they had divided the ownership. French media reported that Oaktree would own 80 percent of the club.
Capton, who is from Normandy where Caen are based, was a member of previous ownership the “Club of 10”, a group of 12 local business people. He becomes chairman of the board.
Caen were relegated from Ligue 1 in 2019 and finished 13th in Ligue 2 in the curtailed 2019/20 season. The club has been struggling financially and faces a hearing before French football’s financial watchdog, the DNCG, in mid-September.
Two years ago, the board rejected a first takeover bid put together by Capton. This time they unanimously accepted the offer and issued a statement explaining the need to sell before the deal was confirmed.
“Professional soccer has changed,” they said. “The business model of our Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs today requires ever-increasing financial capacity and solid equity capital. We also need to manage in unity and efficiency.”
Last week, Capton told a regional newspaper that the new owners were going to invest “between 15 and 20 million euros (17.7 to 23.6 million dollars) rather quickly” in order to balance the books and satisfy the DNCG.
Caen, which gave France and Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante his Ligue 1 debut, had already announced the hiring of Olivier Pickeu, who built Angers into a Ligue 1 club in 14 years as sports director, as club president.
Caen becomes the 11th French football league club under foreign ownership after Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille, Bordeaux, Lille, Monaco and Nice in Ligue 1 and in Ligue 2, Auxerre, Sochaux, Toulouse and Troyes, bought by Manchester City’s parent company last week.
Marseille, Bordeaux and Toulouse, which changed hands in July, are also American-owned.