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Le Monde staff vote for Lazard-led offer

Steve Dinneen
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A CONSORTIUM led by Lazard banker Matthieu Pigasse looks set to take control of iconic French newspaper Le Monde.

Staff at the firm overwhelmingly backed an ownership bid from the trio of left-leaning tycoons, which also includes internet entrepreneur Xavier Niel and the former business partner of late fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent.

The vote dealt a blow to President Nicolas Sarkozy, who had threatened to withhold state subsidies from the 65-year-old newspaper if the Pigasse bid beat a rival consortium that included partly state-owned company France Telecom, Nouvel Observateur magazine owner Claude Perdriel, and Spanish media group Prisa, publisher of El Pais.

Le Monde staff unions said more than 90 per cent of employees voted for the Lazard banker’s €110m bid. The newspaper’s key shareholder is its journalists’ union, which supported the Pigasse bid.

Losing bidder France Telecom said in a statement: “We agreed to withdraw our offer after [yesterday’s board] meeting, regardless of its outcome, as we had committed to do so in the event of an unfavourable vote from Le Monde’s journalists’ union.”