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Purchase of Marianne: Pierre-Édouard Stérin in “exclusive negotiations” with Daniel Kretinsky

The CMI France group, owned by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, announced on Tuesday that it had entered into “exclusive negotiations” with Pierre-Édouard Stérin's Otium group for the sale of the weekly Marianne.

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Purchase of Marianne: Pierre-Édouard Stérin in “exclusive negotiations” with Daniel Kretinsky

The CMI France group, owned by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, announced on Tuesday that it had entered into “exclusive negotiations” with Pierre-Édouard Stérin's Otium group for the sale of the weekly Marianne. “Becoming owner in 2018 of the magazine, then in great difficulty, the group has since injected 20 million euros into the company, repositioned the title,” details its press release, explaining that “these efforts must be continued and CMI France has decided to pass the baton. The signatories are giving themselves one month to reach a final agreement, this press release indicates.

In mid-April, while rumors of a sale of the title were growing, a source close to the matter indicated that the “radical sovereignist” line defended by its editorial director, Natacha Polony, did not suit the Czech billionaire, pro- European. In March, Natacha Polony refuted any interference from the shareholder, “particularly respectful” according to her.

According to the CMI France press release, the Otium group is committed to maintaining the editorial identity of the title as well as to proposing that Natacha Polony continue as editorial director. He also undertook to provide a series of guarantees regarding the independence of the weekly's journalists. A self-proclaimed Catholic and liberal, Pierre-Edouard Stérin built his success on the company Smartbox (gift boxes), before investing in the restaurant reservation site La Fourchette and then founding the investment company Otium Capital in 2009.

Created in 1997 by journalists Jean-François Kahn and Maurice Szafran, Marianne has 55 press cards. At the initiative of the editorial management, a new formula was launched in March, with pagination reduced by half and a price dropping from 4.40 euros to 3.50 euros. This launch was a success, with single-issue sales increasing sharply and paper and digital subscriptions starting to rise again, according to CMI France. With 129,000 copies sold in 2023, Marianne saw its circulation drop by 1.3% compared to 2022. It remains behind its competitors Le Point, L'Obs and L'Express. Marianne lost 3 million euros last year, for 12 million euros in turnover.

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