Chinese offer to buy French far-right HQ
A Chinese university has made an offer to buy the headquarters of France's financially crippled National Front.12 August 2008
PARIS - A Chinese university has made an offer to buy the headquarters of France's National Front, whose leader Jean-Marie Le Pen is being forced to sell off its assets for cash, the party said Monday.
According to the www.lexpress.fr website, the buyers hope to turn the vast mansion in the plush west Paris suburb of Saint Cloud into a study centre offering intensive French language courses.
"A formal sale offer has been signed with a university in Shanghai," the party's press service said, confirming the report, which estimated the sale at between EUR 12 and 15 million.
It did not specify which university was behind the purchase.
Veteran far-right leader Le Pen, 79, inherited the building of more than 5,000 square metres, dubbed "The Ship", from a millionaire supporter in the 1970s. It long provided the basis for the party's finances.
The anti-immigration politician was forced to put the party HQ up for sale along with assets including an armoured car, which sold on eBay, to face up to a financial crisis gripping his party.
In 2002 the far-right firebrand, who holds several convictions for racism and anti-Semitism, shocked Europe by making it through to the second round of the French presidential election. He gathered around 10 percent of votes in the 2007 presidential race.
But his party racked up millions of euros of debts after losing state subsidies thanks to an unexpectedly poor showing in 2007's parliamentary elections.
[AFP / Expatica]
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