Bernard Tapie passed away on Sunday, October 3 at the age of 78. A life filled with many careers: politician, boss of OM, but also of cycling and sailing teams, television host, film and theater actor, writer and singer. A CV as long as the arm for the one who will remain for many an unavoidable businessman.
The businessman with mixed success
A flamboyant businessman since the 1980s, Bernard Tapie has, over the course of his life, multiplied his investments. His favorite targets: companies on the verge of bankruptcy. If he struggles to save jobs lost in advance, the path of Tapie in business has been strewn with pitfalls. Debts, liquidations and legal cases will take over the success of the businessman. Few are the companies that he managed to make prosper as he wished.
One example is the case of Manufrance, which Bernard Tapie obtained the operation in 1980. The company, an icon of the French mail order business, was on the verge of collapse. The operation made the businessman famous in the media, but the situation quickly got out of hand. The restructuring plan he proposed was refused by local elected officials and unions, and the company had to be liquidated in 1986.
La Vie Claire, Terraillon and Testut are other names synonymous with disappointment for the French business magnate. In the case of Testut, the failure goes even further, as Bernard Tapie is condemned in 1996 for misuse of social assets for his management of the company.
However, the Look company, bought in 1983 by Bernard Tapie for a symbolic franc, remains a real entrepreneurial success. Under his leadership, the manufacturer of ski bindings and bicycle accessories prospered by launching the safety pedal, with which Bernard Hinault won the Tour de France in 1985.
The sports lover
If Bernard Tapie likes business, he also appreciates sports, of which he is a true enthusiast. Over the years, and especially during the 1980s, he invested in several sports fields. In particular, he set up a cycling team around Bernard Hinault, and also entered the field of sailing by buying the sailboat Phocéa from the sailor Alain Colas, who beat the record for the North Atlantic crossing in a monohull with a crew in 1988.
But Bernard Tapie will remain mostly associated with the world of soccer. He bought Olympique de Marseille in the mid-1980s, a club on the verge of collapse. Thanks to his management, the club recovered and even won the Champions League in 1993 against AC Milan, which remains the only edition won by a French club.
Adidas, the synthesis
At the beginning of the 1990s, Bernard Tapie decided to take over the German sports equipment manufacturer Adidas, which was in great financial difficulty, for 1.6 billion francs, or 362 million euros. Bernard Tapie, who considers Adidas to be “the business of his life”, implements a restructuring plan including the relocation of part of the production to Asia, the redefinition of commercial policies and the relationship with distributors, as well as the implementation of a new, more modern visual identity. The company gradually reveals itself thanks to the Tapie strategy and becomes profitable again from 1993.
— culturepub (@culturepub) October 5, 2021
After becoming Minister of the City, Bernard Tapie instructs the Credit Lyonnais to sell Adidas for 2.1 billion francs, or 441 million euros, to a group of investors. This sale will lead to the famous affair of Credit Lyonnais, after which an arbitration will award 285 million to Tapie in 2008 (403 million with interest), arbitration canceled for fraud in 2015.
Bernard Tapie leaves behind the image of a frenetic and adventurous businessman, even though he was not always successful. But despite this, whether you love him or hate him, it is undeniable that his fiery temperament and his legendary outbursts have left their mark on the French, marking the business world like no one before him.
Featured Photo : © Getty Images
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