Emerging tennis agency Tennium has hired two former Lagardère executives to expand its player representation business.
Lagardère’s former head of tennis Julien Cassaigne and agent Philippe Weiss will bring around 20 player-clients with them, including French professional Richard Gasquet, currently ranked 55 on the ATP men’s tour, reports Palco23.
Tennium came to prominence in November last year when it secured a three-year contract to manage the Barcelona Open ATP 500 clay-court tournament. The agency overcame bids from IMG, which had enjoyed a 30-year association with the event, and Kosmos, the Davis Cup organiser group founded by FC Barcelona player Gerard Piqué.
The Barcelona-based company was founded by Belgian businessman Kristoff Puelinckx and former French player Sébastien Grosjean in 2015. Eric Molina, the founder of the Momentum Talent Sports agency, joined in 2018 bringing a roster of tennis clients with him, including Spanish players Feliciano López, Marc López, Tommy Robredo and Lara Arruabarrena.
Puelinckx described the deal as a “big step forward in our growth path in the player representation business”.
It is thought the appointments of Cassaigne and Weiss will also build on the agency’s stable of young players. Palco 23 reports their clients include emerging talents like Japanese player Lennon Jones, Romanian Nicholas David Ionel, Italian Luca Nardi, and Latvian Kārlis Ozoliņš.
The company also has a foothold in the USA, with Grosjean running a high-performance programme in Florida, and says it will support the development of emerging players with a dedicated investment fund.
Tennium will likely draw on its relationships with players to drive ticketing at its events, which also include two ATP 250 tournaments in Buenos Aires and Antwerp as well as the Senior Masters Cup in Marbella.
Lagardère’s tennis business has struggled to address a talent drain in recent years. Cassaigne was appointed to head up its tennis division in October 2015 after his predecessor John Tobias was fired following the departure of leading female players Victoria Azarenka and Eugenie Bouchard to IMG. The exit of Tobias came amid an overhaul of the sports and entertainment division as it sought to become more profitable.
Cassaigne is a former junior tennis player and had been at Lagardère since 2008. He is understood to have played an important role in the acquisition of the US-based BEST agency, for which Tobias was working as a vice-president, and is reported to have enjoyed a close relationship with the group’s owner, Arnaud Lagardère.
The sports division of Lagardère is in the process of being taken over. At the end of last year, the agency announced plans to sell 75 per cent of Lagardère Sports to H.I.G. Capital, the Miami-based private equity and asset management firm. The offer would value Lagardère Sports at approximately €110 million ($118.2 million).
The sale, which is targeted to close before the end of the first quarter of 2020, would bring to an end Lagardère’s protracted search for a buyer for its sports division.