Nice-Matin has been in financial agony for years (see Reporter 160) and bets for salvation were on a miraculous takeover by a mysterious buyer, probably from Italy or the Middle East.
As the only local daily, its possible demise worried not only the staff and dwindling readership, but also local political figures who depend on it for spreading the word about their wonderful achievements and promises for the future. The pols certainly wanted the title saved but few expected the latest twist.
At last word, Nice-Matin has been taken over by local municipal councillor and businessman Jean Icart. Refinancing of some €20 million will come from GXP Capital – a private Swiss investment fund which will place its own Gilles Périn on the Board of Directors under Icart.
Jean Icart, 66, is a long-standing member of Nice’s political establishment. Currently a sitting councillor and originally a member of the centre-right UMP party, he broke off to become a right-wing independent candidate previously allied to the National Front and former Nice mayor Jacques Peyrat. Both Icart and Peyrat are fierce political opponents of the incumbent mayor Christian Estrosi.
Icart promises that under his management Nice-Matin and its sister titles, Var-Matin and Corse-Matin, will be politically independent (we’ll see about that) and that he will not stand for political office while he is managing Nice-Matin.
This clears the way for the continuing local dominance of Estrosi who, at this writing, has yet to comment on the unexpected takeover. In fact, in Nice’s political fishbowl no one else is saying much either. Perhaps they read Icart’s autobiography, La croix dans le dos (Broché), where he quotes a key local businessman saying to him: “Vous dérangez beaucoup à Nice.” (You upset many people in Nice.)
That was in 1994 but it seems likely to become even more true today.