British petrochemicals company Ineos has completed a takeover of French Ligue 1 football club OGC Nice on Monday, with owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, pledging to establish the club as contenders domestically and in Europe.
Ineos had been given permission to seal the deal worth a reported €100m ($110.8m) with Nice’s Sino-American owners by France’s competition regulator, the Autorité de la concurrence.
Ratcliffe said: “It has been quite a long journey getting here, but it is unique, and we were determined to complete the purchase of the club.
“We have looked at a lot of clubs in the manner we look at businesses in Ineos – for value and potential – and Nice fulfils that criteria.
“With some sensible, measured investment, we want to establish Nice as a team that competes in European club competition on a regular basis. And importantly, sustain it.”
Ineos stepped up its pursuit of Nice in July when it announced a deal to become the club’s main sponsor for the 2019-20 season. Ineos, which is owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Britain’s richest man, already controls Swiss Challenge League club FC Lausanne-Sport, which plays in the second tier of the country’s league system.
Ratcliffe alluded to mistakes made at Lausanne, but said: “these have been rectified and we are already seeing the benefits”.
In March, Ineos bought the UCI WorldTour cycling outfit formerly known as Team Sky, while in May it announced that it would be sponsoring a new attempt by Kenyan athletics great Eliud Kipchoge to break the two-hour marathon barrier.
Ratcliffe was also pleased at how Ineos’ new investment in Nice would dovetail with its cycling team’s presence in the Tour de France, saying: “It is also fantastic that the Tour de France starts in Nice next year.”