Matthieu Pigasse to quit as Lazard France CEO

PARIS (AFP) – French investment banker Matthieu Pigasse, a major shareholder in France’s Le Monde newspaper, is to resign his executive positions at Lazard, the United States (US) investment bank announced last Sunday.

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lazard France Pigasse will step down at the end of the year, said the statement on the bank’s website. “I am excited to begin my next chapter beyond investment banking in a new entrepreneurial project,” Pigasse said in the statement.

While he has given no details of the project, one source told AFP last Sunday that Pigasse would be elaborating in the coming weeks.

Pigasse is also deputy CEO of Lazard’s financial advisory. As well as his roles at Lazard, Pigasse is known in France as a major investor in the news media.

His LNEI group owns a package of media outlets including Les Inrocks magazine and radio stations.

In 2010, he also helped refinance France’s centre-left daily newspaper Le Monde, along with other investors. He sold some of his stake last year to billionaire Czech investor Daniel Kretinsky, sparking fears at the paper over its editorial independence.

In September, around 500 writers, artists and activists including US whistleblower Edward Snowden and novelist Salman Rushdie signed an open letter of support for journalists seeking guarantees.

Pigasse and other investors signed an agreement later the same month to allay those concerns.

While Lazard praised Pigasse’s role at the bank in its statement last Sunday, some news reports have suggested there were tensions between Pigasse and other senior executives at the bank.

France’s investigative website Mediapart reported last Wednesday that Pigasse was on the way out.

Lazard Chief Executive Ken Jacob had decided on an impromptu visit to Paris from Sunday to Tuesday to finalise Pigasse’s departure, it reported.

Lazard France said in its statement last Sunday that a new management team for its French operation would be announced shortly.

Number two of Lazard business banking group and President of French culture magazine ‘Les Inrockuptibles’ Matthieu Pigasse. PHOTO: AFP