Kyril Louis-Dreyfus completes takeover of Sunderland

French billionaire-heir Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, aged just 23, completes takeover of Sunderland and promises ‘exciting new chapter’ in club’s history as outgoing owners admit Black Cats’ lack of success on the pitch has been ‘a bitter disappointment’

  • Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, 23, has completed his takeover of League One Sunderland
  • French billionaire-heir has bought a controlling stake in the Wearside club
  • Sunderland’s former owners have each retained a minority shareholding
  • New owner is the heir to the Louis-Dreyfus Group which is valued at £26billion
  • His family previously owned French Ligue 1 club Olympique Marseille  

Kyril Louis-Dreyfus – the 23-year-old heir to the multi-billion pound Louis-Dreyfus Group – has been confirmed as Sunderland’s new owner.

The Frenchman has bought a controlling stake in the League One club with Stewart Donald, Juan Sartori and Charlie Methven each retaining a minority shareholding.

The Louis-Dreyfus Group, a world leader in food processing, agriculture and transport as well as owner of several hedge funds, has an estimated worth of over £26billion.

New Sunderland owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus watches their win over Lincoln City in the semi-finals of the Papa John’s Trophy on Wednesday night

Sunderland are currently sat in seventh in League One, a point outside the play-off places 

Former owners Stewart Donald (right) and Charlie Methven (left) retain minority stakes

CLICK HERE for our profile of the French billionaire-heir Kyril Louis-Dreyfus

Kyril’s father Robert, who died in 2009 after a long battle with leukaemia, was CEO of Adidas between 1994 and 2001, while the Louis-Dreyfus family owned Marseille before selling it in 2016.

The 23-year-old, who becomes Sunderland’s chairman, is estimated to have a trust fund worth £2bn controlled by his mother Margarita Bogdanova.

Louis-Dreyfus has been in attendance at Sunderland’s recent matches in League One against Shrewsbury Town and Doncaster Rovers. They are currently seventh in the table, a point outside the play-offs.

The Black Cats beat Lincoln City on penalties on Wednesday night to reach the Wembley final of the Papa John’s Trophy.

Louis-Dreyfus said: ‘I would like to thank Stewart, the Board of Directors and the EFL for their diligence and support throughout the recent process. 

‘I am proud to become a custodian of this esteemed institution, but I also recognise the significant responsibility that comes with it. 

‘Today marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Sunderland AFC’s history and although the current landscape facing football dictates that there are challenges to overcome, I am confident that together we can weather the present storm and put solid foundations in place to bring sustainable and long-term success to the club.’ 

Louis-Dreyfus has watched Sunderland’s last three matches as the takeover drew closer

Sunderland celebrate their penalty shoot-out win over Lincoln to reach the Wembley final of the Papa John’s Trophy on Wednesday night

Donald said: ‘I am delighted to welcome Kyril Louis-Dreyfus to the club as our new chairman and controlling shareholder. Kyril’s commitment, acumen and integrity convinced us to accept his proposal. 

‘His vision and desire to bring success back to Sunderland was obvious from the outset and his bid is the one that we feel gives the club the best chance of long-term success and sustainability.

‘When we entered into negotiations with Ellis Short three years ago, Sunderland was nearly £200 million in debt, was losing £35 million per annum, and had all but been relegated to League One. 

‘Our plan was to work hard to turn around the finances of the club, put it on a stable footing and to get promoted back into the Championship. 

Billionaire Kyril Louis-Dreyfus pictured with his mother Margarita, who runs the Louis-Dreyfus Group, which has an estimated worth of £26billion 

Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who was involved at adidas and Saatchi & Saatchi, passed away in 2009

Robert become majority stakeholder of Marseille in 1996 but the family sold up in 2016

‘I am proud to say that we have achieved what we set out to in terms of SAFC’s finances – the club is debt-free, was breaking even prior to the pandemic and has retained its Category One Academy status. 

‘However, it is no secret that – despite spending the highest transfer fees and playing wages in League One history – progress on the pitch has not followed suit. 

‘That has been a bitter disappointment for us as owners, and we can only apologise for falling short in this regard.

‘Whilst we certainly made mistakes, everything was done with the best of intentions with the view to deliver this aim, but we just fell short and in football, unfortunately, a miss is as good as a mile. 

‘However, with the club just having booked its third Wembley final in three seasons and still being in the hunt for promotion, the foundations are set for better times. 

‘We hope and believe that the new management team, with Kyril at its head, can finally complete the turnaround and get the club climbing the divisions once again.’

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