Blow for Sarkozy as Lazard banker Pigasse buys Le Monde

French premier Nicolas Sarkozy likes to get his own way, wielding law suits against his enemies like other politicians trade verbal insults.

But his preferred bidder for struggling French daily newspaper Le Monde, a consortium including partly state-owned France Telecom, has lost out to one headed by left-leaning Lazard banker Matthieu Pigasse.

In response Sarkozy is threatening to withdraw state aid from the distinguished and independent-minded paper, founded at the end of World War Two and largely controlled by its journalists.

Newspaper ownership is becoming popular again among the world’s super rich, with former Russian KGB man Alexander Lebedev cutting a swathe through London with his purchase of the Evening Standard and the Independent.

Only time will tell if Pigasse and his partners industrialist Pierre Berge and telecoms tycoon Xavier Neil have deep enough pockets and, crucially, imaginative enough plans to keep venerable Le Monde from the clutches of Sarkozy.

But it’s another poke in the eye for the embattled French premier who is probably still seething after former wife Cecilia described him in an interview over the weekend as a sauteur.

Shagger apparently.

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