French Daily’s Losses Prompt Partnership Talks

11 November 2004

Sacre Bleu! The grand dame of French newspapers is looking for a live-in partner as her financial condition takes a turn for the worse.

Paris-based daily Le Monde is reportedly offering a stake of up to 25% in a bid to stem its losses, brought on by falls in advertising revenue and the rise in free newspapers and internet news services.

Last year's loss was €32.2 million ($41.6m, £22.3m), the third deficit in as many years, while the newspaper's owner, Le Monde SA, also reports the evaporation of 26,000 readers during the past two years.

Up to 190 employees across the whole organisation have been fired in an effort to cut costs, amid talks of revamping the paper to increase its appeal.

Le Monde, positioned on the centre-left of the political spectrum, has a complex shareholding structure under which nearly 53% of the paper is owned by "internal" shareholders, a loose collection of employees and staff investment funds. It claims this arrangement protects its editorial independence.

The company's only comment: "We are in discussions with many investors."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff