The final hurdle for Xavier Niel to take over the Nice Matin Group was passed on March 26, when the Commercial Court of Nice approved a rescue plan put forward by NJJ Holding, his personal holding company. The Group has been in financial difficulties for many years, and was initially rescued from bankruptcy in 2016 by an employee cooperative.

In an article published on Sunday, April 5, Monaco Matin said it would be making new investments, despite the downturn in advertising revenue brought about by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The Nice Matin Group publishes local French-language daily Monaco Matin and Var Matin as well as the Nice title.

Niel owns a 55 percent stake in Monaco Telecom, which he acquired in 2014 from Cable & Wireless Communication, for $445 million. Usually through other entities, Niel owns or controls telecoms companies in Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Cyprus, and through Monaco Telecom, Malta.

Niel is best known for having set up the Free internet and mobile service provider, which is one of the big four in France in terms of size. In 2010 a group of investors, including Niel, bought a controlling stake in Le Monde, the French daily.

Niel sold his first business aged 19, a sex-chat service. Now an active philanthropist, with several projects, Niel ran into judicial trouble earlier in his business career when he was involved in running a string of sex shops. He was given a two-year suspended prison sentence in 2006 for misuse of company assets in France. At the time of his investment in telecoms in Ireland, the Irish Times described Niel as “France’s internet’s bad boy.”

Now 52, Niel lives in Paris. His net worth, according to Forbes, is $6.6 billion.

ORIGINAL SOURCES: Monaco Matin, Le Monde,, Irish Times, others, and local reports