Bournemouth owner Bill Foley buys stake in French club Lorient


American businessman Bill Foley, who recently bought English Premier League club Bournemouth, has purchased a stake in French outfit Lorient, the Ligue 1 side announced on Friday.

No financial details of the deal were revealed but in an interview with the daily Ouest France, Loic Fery, owner and president of the club since 2009, mentioned a capital increase of 10 million euros ($10.8m).

"The new shareholder will have 40 percent of the capital no later than this summer," said Fery.

The deal was struck with Foley and his partners in the Black Knight Football and Entertainment (BKFE) group, who in December bought 100 percent of Bournemouth's shares.

Foley, 77, also owns the NHL ice-hockey franchise Vegas Golden Knights

Lorient returned to Ligue 1 in 2020 and after struggling for two years have had encouraging results this season under new coach Regis Le Bris and are now sixth.

"We are not going to play the Champions League because we have a new shareholder," said Fery. "But the reinforcement of our capital and our shareholder base will enable us to build on the good results."

An Air Force veteran, Foley made his fortune in finance and through investments in wine, hotels and sports.

He was one of the investors brought together to help John Textor buy French club Lyon, but his share of the financing was refused by the banks.

According to several British media outlets Foley's stake in the Brittany club is the first step in a long term takeover.

However Fery insisted he wants to remain the main shareholder until 2026, the club's centenary year.

"It's not a withdrawal on my part, but a strategy to strengthen the capital of the club," he said, insisting Lorient were not going to become "a subsidiary club of Bournemouth".

"We will obviously have synergies to develop, particularly around training, marketing and perhaps also gateways allowing some of our players to join the Premier League if everyone agrees on the plan," he said.

This will not necessarily reassure the fans, who fear seeing the Brittany club lose its identity.

But London-based Fery recalled there had been the same fear when he arrived.

"The link with the people of Lorient and the family spirit of the 'Hakes' remain inscribed in stone," he added.