Rothschild to finance ailing lefty Liberation

20th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 20 (AFP) - Staff at the French newspaper Liberation - a beacon for left-wingers and intellectuals - voted Thursday in favour of a bid from a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty to become its main shareholder.

PARIS, Jan 20 (AFP) - Staff at the French newspaper Liberation - a beacon for left-wingers and intellectuals - voted Thursday in favour of a bid from a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty to become its main shareholder.

The 370 journalists and other staff cast their vote on the offer from Edouard de Rothschild, 47, to inject EUR 20 million (USD 26 million) into the ailing paper and take over a 37 percent share of its capital.

Rothschild has given a guarantee that he will not interfere with the newspaper's editorial content.

Founded in 1973 by the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and Maoist militant Serge July, the paper remains the daily of choice for the French left, but it is suffering from a drastic decline in readership and advertising receipts.

Circulation dropped during 2003-4 to 149,218 from 160,622 in 2000.

Under the accord - approved by Liberation's management on Monday - the paper's staff would retain a blocking minority on the board, and July's job as editor-in-chief would be guaranteed until 2012.

Rothschild, best-known in France as president of the horse-race organiser France-Galop, told staff that he wanted to turn the paper into a "truly independent and coherent press group."

In separate ballots Thursday, printing room staff voted against the offer, but journalists and administrative and commercial personnel voted in favour, producing an overall positive majority.

"It's the end of this newspaper's special adventure," commented one journalist: "A new era has begun."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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