A woman has become this Tuesday the great magnate of women’s soccer. One year after buying the Washington Spirit, current leader of the American league, for 35 million dollars (about 32 million euros at the current exchange rate), the businesswoman Michele Kang has closed an agreement to take control of the best team female in history: Olympique de Lyon. The operation will be carried out through an exchange of shares and the creation of a new entity.
That the operation was close was an open secret. Kang was last week collecting a trophy from the French team. This Tuesday it has become official. In a three-way agreement, OL Groupe (owner of Olympique de Lyon), Eagle Football Holdings (majority shareholder of OL Groupe) and Michele Kang (owner of Washington Spirit) have announced the signing of an agreement to create the first world multi-team women’s soccer organization of its kind.
“The combination represents hope, determination and the business steps necessary to shape the future of women’s football,” Michele Kang, a 63-year-old businesswoman born in South Korea who has made her fortune with a company, said in a statement. technology in the health sector.
Kang will become the majority shareholder, with 52%, and CEO of the newly created company, making it the first women-led and women-owned multi-club soccer organization, the clubs have highlighted in separate statements. In February 2023, Kang already became a minority shareholder in Eagle Football Holdings, which, in addition to Olympique de Lyon, owns stakes in soccer teams around the world, such as Crystal Palace from England, RWD Molenbeek from Belgium and Botafogo. from Brazil.
OL Groupe will continue to support the new entity through the provision of services, including the use of Groupama Stadium, the Groupama OL Training Center and the OL Academy. This new global platform will seek to acquire additional clubs in other countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia, the clubs have announced. The women’s teams of the clubs in the orbit of Eagle Football Holdings seem the first candidates to join.
While each club will retain its own identity and tradition, the group will centrally invest in developing capabilities that will be shared across teams, such as performance science and technology, data analytics, global scouting and game development. sports staff.
“The formation of this new group is a clear sign that the investment and resources in women’s football are taking a big step towards equality with the men’s teams,” the affected clubs indicate. “With the necessary support, girls and women around the world will be inspired to pursue their dreams and embrace a football career on a scale and level of professional success that should not be reserved solely for their male peers.” add.
The transaction is subject to the fulfillment of certain conditions, including approval by the US professional women’s soccer league, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) and various third party approvals in France. The closure should take place by the end of June 2023. As OL Groupe owns OL Reign, from Seattle, which competes in the NWSL (it was champion in 2022 and is now second, behind the Washington Spirit), it has initiated a formal process of sale of the club to avoid a conflict of interest within the league.
“This agreement represents a great step forward in the history of women’s professional football,” Michele Kang said in a statement. “It brings together the unparalleled tradition of eight-time Champions League winner OL Féminin and the dynamism of the 2021 NWSL Champion Spirit to bring our sport into a new era,” she added.
“Over the past 20 years, OL Groupe has played an important role in the growth of women’s football. Today, the popularity of this sport is exploding in Europe, the United States and around the world,” said John Textor, Chairman of OL Groupe. “With a winning tradition that is unmatched in the world of women’s football, OL Féminin has a unique opportunity in this growing market to build the global Olympique de Lyon brand for the benefit of OL Groupe and our extraordinary athletes.” .
The operation has been designed through an exchange of shares. OL Groupe will contribute its women’s team, and Kang, through his YMK Holdings firm, will contribute the majority stake of the Washington Spirit to create a new independent entity. At the OL group level, the transaction will result in the contribution by the OL Association (an independent association governed by French law of 1901, consolidated by OL Groupe) of its women’s football business in exchange for a 12% stake in the new joint entity (non-voting).
OL Groupe will also have, through OL SASU, a 36% stake (non-voting) in the new joint entity in exchange for the contribution of a 50-year license to the OL brand. OL Groupe will be represented on the governing bodies of the new structure and will benefit from certain liquidity rights linked to the liquidity of the majority shareholder.
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