NICE, France (August 31, 2019) —
Olympique Gymnaste Club Nice (“OGC Nice”), the French Ligue 1 club, have been sold to Ineos, an energy company headed up by British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who is worth around €21 billion and resides in Monaco.
It is not the first foray for Ineos into the sports world. The company also owns Swiss second division side Lausanne, which they purchased in November 2017. Ineos’ CEO and founder Ratcliffe said he hopes the club would “sustainably compete at a European level” in the future. The company also previously bought out Britain’s hugely successful cycling outfit Team Sky and changed its name to Team Ineos in May.
The French Competition and Markets Authority (Direction Nationale du Contrôle de Gestion, or “DNCG”), the organisation responsible for monitoring and overseeing the accounts of professional clubs in France and which has a say in every takeover in Ligue 1 or Ligue 2, also gave its authorisation after going through all the accounts and paperwork for the potential takeover before being ratified by the Competition and Markets Authority.
Ineos is reportedly paying €100 million to owners Chien Lee and Alex Zheng to officially become the new boss of the club. First, Ratcliffe had to convince Lee and Zheng, who were reluctant to sell. After an initial offer of €80m was rejected, he raised it to €100m. Then he had to present his project to the club’s employees who agreed to the takeover.
Ratcliffe attended the Mediterranean derby against Marseille this past Wednesday as Nice’s new owner.
Nice, founded in 1904, are now the most expensive club in French football history, costing significantly more than the €79m spent by the Qatar Royal family to buy Paris Saint-Germain in 2011 and the €45m paid out by Frank McCourt for the acquisition of Marseille in September 2016. It is also more than Bordeaux (€95m) and Lille (€80m) were sold for in the last few months.
Ratcliffe has promised to invest heavily in the club to take it to the Champions League and to compete with PSG for the Ligue 1 title and will back manager Patrick Vieira in the coming days with up to five new players prior to the of the transfer window on September 2.