Denis Olivennes, the ambassador of media mogul Daniel Kretinsky

At 58, the former boss of Lagardère Active puts himself at the service of the Czech businessman, who thus opens a beautiful address book. Indispensable for those who invest in the press - including "Le Monde" - in France.

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Denis Olivennes, Friday, February 8, in Paris. Lea Crespi for "The World"

"It's amazing that the prospect of having a biographer never made anyone give up a life. " Embedded in a seat of the Select, historical brewery of Montparnasse, Denis Olivennes reserves, as a welcome, a quote from Emil Cioran (1911-1995). Matois, he savored his projection. Half-charmer half-combative, he begins to talk about his new life. He also cuts in pieces the portrait, sometimes cruel, that shaped him, in thirty years of career, "the small Parisian environment": an affable business leader, better known for his connections in the media, politics and culture only for his qualities of builder.

After eight years at the head of Lagardère's media division, 58-year-old Denis Olivennes joins Daniel Kretinsky, 43, the Czech businessman who is finalizing the purchase of most of the group's magazines this week. French, for 52 million euros. He will be appointed, in the days to come, non-executive chairman of CMI France, the subsidiary that will host securities acquired by the billionaire of the energy sector, including Elle , but also Marianne .

Read also Denis Olivennes announces that he will take over the management of Kretinsky's media in France

The participation of Mr. Kretinsky in Le Monde - 49% of the shares of the holding of the banker Matthew Pigasse, co-majority with the boss of Free, Xavier Niel - will it also part of the scope? Mr. Olivennes changed his speech: "This is the most likely hypothesis ," he says now, while he answered "no, not at this stage" to Challenges, January 19. In addition, he could represent Mr. Kretinsky on the World Supervisory Board. "It's not decided, but there is no taboo. What is certain is that I will not have an executive function , "he says.

It would be a small revenge - even if he refutes it - for one of the linchpins of the offer to buy the newspaper carried in 2010 by Claude Perdriel, then boss of the Nouvel Obs , to which the editor has preferred that of the trio Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pigasse and Pierre Bergé (1930-2017).

"He knows everyone in the system"

At the end of October 2018, during a meeting with Mr. Kretinsky, the Lagardère unions understood that "DO" would not really leave the group: the boss of Lagardère Active was present, multiplying the marks of prevention towards the man of French speaking business. "We were dumbfounded. He sold us to a Czech oligarch and we find him on the floor above, " says an employee. This transfer generated some friction: in September 2018, when the emissaries of Mr. Kretinsky asked Arnaud Lagardère if they could approach Mr. Olivennes to offer him a job, the shareholder replied that it would be "ethically inappropriate" .