Paris (AFP)

Mediapart announced Tuesday that all of its capital had been acquired by a "non-capitalist, non-profit" structure, fulfilling a project that had been in preparation for several years and aimed at guaranteeing its independence forever.

As announced in early July, Mediapart's shares were all bought by a new structure, the "Mediapart Independence Protection Corporation (SPIM), itself owned by the Fund for Free Press (FPL)", says online media in a press release.

The newly created FPL is an entity halfway between foundation and association, which has the status of "endowment fund", a device still unpublished in the French press.

This arrangement was designed by the co-founders and historical shareholders of the newspaper, in consultation with the employees, to guarantee its independence and avoid any quarrel succession, financing crisis or attempted redemption that would threaten its editorial independence.

The online newspaper was hitherto held 42% by its four co-founders (François Bonnet, Laurent Mauduit, Edwy Plenel and Marie-Hélène Smiejan), alongside the employees, and a "society of friends", with which they formed a "pole of independence" (62% of the capital). The rest of his shares belonged to partner investors (Doxa and Ecofinance).

Henceforth, "our company therefore has more shareholders, its capital having become non-transferable, non-purchasable and non-speculable.This sanctuary of ownership Mediapart permanently preserves its independence," says the newspaper online.

This new device is inspired by a unique model in the world, the "Scott Trust", which protects the British newspaper The Guardian since the 1930s. And it has been preferred by the creators and employees of Mediapart to other statuses already experienced in the press in France or abroad (ranging from crowdfunding to employee cooperatives), which would have the disadvantage of not working on the market. very long term.

To ensure the proper functioning of this rather complex system, Mediapart's new holding structure is accompanied by a set of internal powers and countervailing powers, notably through a third structure, the Association for the Right to Know (ADS). which will have a veto right on any modification of the statutes of the SPIM and the FPL.

© 2019 AFP