United States businessman John Textor has plans to take Olympique Lyonnais public in the near future. Textor, through his London-based company Eagle Football Holdings, bought a majority stake of the French club last month. The move reportedly cost the investors about $940 million.

Along with a 78% slice of Lyon, Textor’s company also owns Brazlian club Botafogo, Belgian team RWD Molenbeek as well as a 40% stake in Premier League side Crystal Palace (hence the company’s name).

Financial Times is now reporting that Eagle Football Holdings wants to take Lyon public with help from investors. As sports teams are not typically bought with cash, there were lenders involved in the deal. Ares Management provided lending in the acquiring of Lyon.

Textor purchased Lyon with help from US investors, now going public

Along with the lenders, a U.S. company called Iconic Sports Management also invested $75 million in Eagle Football Holdings. This helped Textor and his partners fund the purchase of Lyon. Iconic consists of hedge fund manager Jamie Dinan, as well as investors Alexander Knaster and Edward Eisler.

Iconic currently also has ties to other sports franchises. Dinan is one of over 20 co-owners of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. Knaster also is the sole owner of Italian Serie B side Pisa SC.

Iconic’s investment in Lyon has reportedly triggered a potential merger between their acquisition cooperation and Eagle Football Holdings. The acquisition cooperation is a New York-listed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). These types of entities are also called ‘blank check’ companies.

SPACs became popular in recent years

SPACs were very popular in 2020 and 2021, as over 950 of these companies went public at the time. They reportedly raked in a combined $250 billion during this timeframe. However, as the market has slowed in recent months, so has SPACs. The aforementioned report claims that just 171 of these companies went public last year, generating just $16 billion.

Nevertheless, there are still suggestions that Eagle Football Holdings will attempt to go public. If successful, it would be the first soccer ownership group to make the move. Iconic made about $345 million when they went public in the fall of 2021.

PHOTO: IMAGO / PanoramiC