Who is Pierre-Edouard Stérin, this Catholic billionaire candidate for the takeover of “Marianne”?

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Entrepreneur Pierre-Edouard Stérin, at the premises of Otium Capital, in Paris, February 1, 2022. ERIC GARAULT / PASCOANDCO

At the start of 2023, Vincent Bolloré welcomes to Villa Montmorency, in the 16e district of Paris, the shy and smiling Pierre-Edouard Stérin. This other billionaire, fervent Catholic and eager like him to “save France”, came to talk to him about his current dreams, including the takeover offer from the Editis group – since aborted. Faced with the Breton, who says he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he, originally from Evreux, sees himself as an ugly duckling who has had a series of failures and “worked all his life like a dog” to succeed. Twenty years of making Smartbox boxes grow, which he created and relocated to Ireland, to build a fortune of 1.2 billion euros, the 104e of France.

Little known to the public, tax exile in Belgium, the fifty-year-old driven by the desire to “give back” (“give back” in French) intends, moreover, to disinherit his five children to bequeath this billion to his own fund. “philanthropy”. And would like, sad that France shuns its great fortunes, for this to be known. He no less admires in Bolloré the “superentrepreneur” and its powerful group, whose ultra-conservative opinion channel CNews is eating into BFM-TV’s market share. That the writing of Sunday newspaper (JDD) was decimated does not shock him: an owner “do what he wants at home”. Newspapers are no exception.

This thought inevitably returns, a year later, when Pierre-Edouard Stérin is this time a candidate for the takeover of the weekly Marianne. Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, who has invested 20 million euros in the magazine – including 5 million to buy it – since 2018, is seeking to part with it. And, among the potential buyers, the Normand figures prominently.

“Buckets of mud”

An offer in “lover of freedom”he said. “Question of pluralism”he assures Worldfrom his offices in Brussels, confirming for the first time his interest in the weekly, his business plan in mind.

” If Marianne can earn 2 million euros per year, in two or three years, with a convincing growth plan, particularly on the Web, its market price could be multiplied by seven, or 14 millionhe calculates at full speed. If we pay him 10 million, we’ll do all the work to earn 4 million, but that’s not unreasonable. »

Read also | Article reserved for our subscribers In front of the employees of “Marianne”, Denis Olivennes confirms the search for a buyer

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However, at the end of April, Denis Olivennes, Daniel Kretinsky’s right-hand man, was held by his sleeve. “If Kretinsky sells Marianne to a guy like Stérin, he will take buckets of mud”warns Maurice Szafran, co-founder of the magazine with Jean-François Kahn. It is necessary at all costs, he pleads, “avoid that Marianne does not fall into the hands of someone from the extreme right ». Three other offers considered serious all lean very far to the right of the chessboard. The heirs of Iskandar Safa, owners of Current valuesare also studying the file before taking a position.

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