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Hublot watch executive tempted by Le Temps

Malcolm Curtis · 10 Oct 2013, 23:02

Published: 10 Oct 2013 23:02 GMT+02:00

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Zurich-based publishers Ringier and Tamedia, who together control the Geneva-based daily with equal share ownership, announced at the beginning of the week that they want to sell their stake in the journal.

The publishers said they want to find a new single owner for the quality paper, which has a circulation of around 39,700 and a readership estimated at 115,000.

On Thursday, an unexpected potential investor emerged in the form of Jean-Claude Biver, the chairman of the Hublot watch brand, based in Nyon in the canton of Vaud.

Biver told La Télé, the Vaud-Fribourg private television station, that he was interested in investing in Le Temps.

“It’s not to create wealth in the media,” Biver told the TV station.

“It’s a choice of the heart but I do not want to lose too much money,” he said.

His interest is private and motivated by love of the “Romandie” region (French-speaking Switzerland), he said.

Biver,a former Swatch executive, made a fortune helping build the upscale Hublot watch company, founded in 1980 by Italian entrepreneur Catlo Crocco, before it was sold to French luxury goods group LVMH in 2008.

Meanwhile, another potential buyer of Le Temps surfaced on Wednesday.

Antoine Hubert, part-owner with Franco-Swiss financier Alain Duménil of business journal L’Agefi, told RTS radio that acquiring the newspaper was among the different strategic options open to the journal’s owners.

Le Temps was founded in 1998 as the result of a merger of the Journal de Genève-Gazette de Lausanne (papers founded in the 1790s) and Le Nouveau Quotidien.

Recently the newspaper has struggled to deal with financial challenges, cutting staff and erecting a pay wall on its internet site.

TV journalist Gaspard Kühn, commenting on the sale of Le Temps for RTS Info noted that it was suffering from the “crisis of the press” in Switzerland and the loss of advertising revenue to the internet.

The paper has high costs for its “quality” journalism, with investigative reporting and fine writing, but the two owners have different priorities, with Ringier more interested in “quality” and Tamedia in economic returns, Kühn indicated.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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