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Volume 25 No. 50
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Lagardere Group Relaunches Global Sports Business As Lagardere Sports

Lagardère Group today announced it has relaunched its global sports business as Lagardère Sports, a division of Lagardère Sports & Entertainment (LS&E). The new LS&E is one of four major divisions of the Paris-based conglomerate and the rebranding was unveiled on the company’s website earlier today. LS&E replaces the name Lagardère Unlimited, will be headquartered in London and is comprised of Lagardère Sports and Lagardère Live Entertainment. LS&E COO Andrew Georgiou said the relaunch is about much more than a name change. He said, "The rebranding is the function of something much more important. It’s actually a unification of a single brand, now covering our entire sports platform.” Lagardère Group built the company through the acquisitions of sports agencies and firms in six different countries, beginning with Germany-based sports marketing and media giant Sportfive in '06. Lagardère Group in '10 entered the U.S. market by buying the former Blue Entertainment Sports Television and Saddlebrook Resort. It added to its American sports operations by acquiring Gaylord Sports Management in '12 and Crown Sports in '13. All of the U.S. companies as well as sports marketing agencies Sportfive, World Sport Group, IEC in Sports, Sports Marketing & Management and Lagardère Unlimited will be run under the Lagardère Sports brand starting today. The entertainment companies that Lagardère Group acquired, including the Folies Bergère, will operate under Lagardère Live Entertainment.

MANAGEMENT TEAM: The new name also signals the completion of the integration of the different agencies into one company and one culture, Georgiou said. A five-member Exec Committee, headed by Lagardère Group General & Managing Partner Arnaud Lagardère, oversaw the integration of the sports and entertainment assets over the last 18 months, Georgiou said. This five-member exec team will run LS&E. Arnaud Lagardère serves as LS&E CEO and chairs the five-member committee. Seamus O’Brien is Deputy Chair, while Andy Pierce is CEO, Americas and President of Golf & Consulting. Laurent Carozzi serves as CFO and Georgiou is COO. “Before individual agencies operated in somewhat isolation,” Georgiou said. “Sportfive had its own corporate structure. World Sports Group had its own corporate structure. Lagardère Group acted, in many ways, like a holding company. Whereas that philosophy has changed completely now, where we are integrating all those agencies so there is a single management team, which until 18 months ago, never existed." The company worldwide is partner to 70 European football clubs, produces, sells or distributes more than 10,000 hours of programming, manages more than 300 events and represents more than 280 athletes. Athlete clients include golfers Jordan Spieth, and Phil Mickelson, tennis players Caroline Wozniacki and Andy Murray, Orioles SS J.J. Hardy, Red Sox 2B Brock Holt, NFL Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson and Chiefs LB Justin Houston. LS&E employs 1,600 worldwide, and Georgiou said there were no plans to reduce that number. “This is not about headcount," he said. "This is about unlocking value throughout a global platform. Invariably in a global organization of 1,600 people, people will come and go, but this is not about headcount."

WHY NOW? Georgiou said the company wanted to achieve a “critical mass” before rebranding the businesses. Additionally, many of the companies Lagardère Group acquired had their own brand equity in either their markets, their segments of expertise, or both. “Some of the agencies we bought were very territorial, in terms of scope, so they had a real brand equity within a particular market,” he said. “And some of the agencies we bought built brand equity within a particular segment. We bought a company called Upsolut in Europe, which was a company that mainly focused on endurance events and action sports. And they had a real equity in that area. We bought a company called Sports Marketing and Management out of Australia; they had 30 years of experience they were really good with Olympics and major games and Olympic experience. Other companies, like Sportfive were massive in Germany and massive in France.” The integration has really been ongoing since '06, when Lagardère Group bought Sportfive, as each agency’s management has been slowly, but surely making the marketplace aware that it was a part of the Lagardère Group, Georgiou said. The 18-month intensive effort to integrate all the acquisitions was not without challenges, he acknowledged. “The biggest challenge has been -- this is why it has taken us a little time -- is making sure we create a consistent culture across our organization, that our internal people buy into what we are trying to achieve, and I know we have all achieved that over the last 18 months,” Georgiou said. He described the culture as innovative and creative and aimed at solving problems for clients, whether they are brands, teams or athletes.

LAGARDERE SPORTS: ACQUISITION TIMELINE
COMPANY
YEAR
DESCRIPTION
Sportfive
'06
Leader in Europe in the management of Football (soccer) rights
Lagardère Paris Racing
'06
Exclusive membership sports club (France)
IEC in Sports
'07
Specialist media agency in Olympic sports and media production
Upsolut
'07
Endurance sports (triathlons, marathons) event management company (Europe)
World Sport Group
'08
The leading Asian sports marketing, media and event management company
PR Event
'08
Tennis events organisation company (Sweden)
BEST
'10
New York based sports marketing agency - Tennis / Football / Basketball / Baseball
Saddlebrook Resort Tampa
'10
Sports academy and resort in Florida
Folies Bergères
'11
Iconic theatre in Paris
Stadia
'11
Stadium & Arena consulting agency
Sports Marketing And Management
'12
Major events, Olympic sports and affiliated sports agency
Gaylord Sports Management
'12
Golf and baseball athlete management company (US)
VIP Sports Travel
'13
International corporate hospitality agency
Zaechel
'13
Hospitality, brand activation and events promotion agency in Germany
JSP
'13
Golf events management company (US)
Crown Sports
'13
Golf athlete management company (US)
L'USINE
'14
Exclusive fitness clubs in Paris
Casino de Paris
'14
Iconic theatre in Paris
Akzio! Ajoint
'15
Brand consulting and activation company in Germany
UFA Sports
'15
Football Marketing and Media agency in Germany and Eastern Europe