Nicolas Sarkozy, not so good at business …

On November 2, Nicolas Sarkozy was a star guest at the Chinese Business Club, in the large red lounge of the Intercontinental hotel in Paris. Alas, the readmission postponed the meeting to March 9, 2021. “It’s a shame, because he would definitely come,” specifies Harold Parisot, the organizer of these French-Chinese parties. He intended to address the issue of 5G and even give his opinion on the dispute with Turkish President Erdogan. All this for a fee? Not even. “Nicolas Sarkozy has agreed to come for free because he knows that by talking to us he will have ten or fifteen seconds of improvement on the news from a great Chinese channel, and that’s invaluable. “

At the end of his only five-year term, the former president of the republic wanted to turn his speeches into a business. “Doha, Shanghai, Moscow, Sao Paulo, Las Vegas … According to my calculations, he made about forty interventions between 2012 and 2015, billed about 100,000 euros each,” estimates journalist Clément Fayol, author of the book “These Frenchmen in the service of foreign lands(ed. Plon). In recent years, the manna appears to have dried out. His last paid speech, “the hyper-president”, declared it not in front of the greats of this world, but at Paris Real Estate Week in September, against 40,000 euros “only”, according to our information.

It is the first time that a former French president has embarked on commercial activities, thus ensuring a lifestyle that is far superior to that of his predecessors. But compared to some of his foreign counterparts of the same stature, Nicolas Sarkozy does not play in the first division. We are far from the prices that Theresa May ($ 150,000), George W. Bush ($ 175,000), Michelle Obama ($ 200,000), her husband Barack ($ 400,000) or even Bill Clinton (from $ 250,000 to $ 750,000) are asking for. The reason ? “Nicolas Sarkozy does not express himself very well in English, and unlike other former leaders, he tends to tell his life story on stage instead of really working on a topic,” a Parisian investment banker ventures.

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Lecturer, administrator, lawyer … the godfather of the right wing is the excellent type. Except that in his new activities he does not seem to play a decisive role. Let’s take his seats on the boards. Unlike his colleagues Gerhard Schröder or Tony Blair, Nicolas Sarkozy has not been encouraged by multinational corporations. He is content to sit in the company of his friends: the hotel owner Accor, run by his old friend Sébastien Bazin; its rival Barrière (Le Fouquet’s, the casinos) by Dominique Desseigne, another close friend; LOV Group, the small media and luxury hotel empire built by one of its loyal followers, Stéphane Courbit.

And finally Lagardère, the stronghold – but for how long? – by his “brother”, Arnaud Lagardère. Enough to receive a total of between 350,000 and 400,000 euros per year in participation fee, according to our calculations. A nice saving, of course, but well below the biggest bosses’ remuneration. “And much lower than what his former minister, François Baroin, is to serve as an adviser to Barclays’ bank,” adds a good acquaintance of the two men. Officially, super Sarko’s address book is incomparable. He would open all the doors. To even out, for example, relations with Qatar, represented in three boards where the former president sits (Lagardère, Accor, Barrière). But in reality, it’s a bit blurry. Capital contacted all of these companies to ask them what specific actions Nicolas Sarkozy had been able to perform for them, what files he had been able to streamline. Nobody answered.

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In the spring, he warmed up his smartphone to bring Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière and Vincent Bolloré, two billionaires of his acquaintances, to the rescue of his friend Lagardère. However, he appears to have stumbled across the carpet. When his renewal as general partner was achieved, the heir made a U-turn, allying with the head of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, to counter Vincent Bolloré. And now the former president found himself in the middle of a war between his friends “Vincent” and “Bernard”, who are now discussing Lagardère’s future without putting him on the field. “Nicolas is a good friend of the house, claims a relative of one of the two tycoons. But it is certain that we would not take him as an investment banker.

Not as a lawyer either? The latest news was that Nicolas Sarkozy was still registered at the bar in Paris. Via the CSC holding company (for Claude, Sarkozy and Claude, editor’s note) he owns 34% of the company Realyze, which counts Lagardère and Accor among its customers – well. According to the latest available accounts that Capital has received, the company achieved a record turnover of 7.5 million euros in 2019 (compared to 7 million in 2018) and a net profit of 807,420 euros (compared to 610,312 euros two years ago). However, the partner trio, the former head of state, the lawyer Arnaud Claude and the latter’s son, Christopher Claude, did not go up in dividends for 2019.

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The trio shared 500,000 euros in dividends in 2018 (and a total of 2.25 million euros since 2013). Not so bad. Will the twenty Realyze employees do better this year? It is not certain. The company has been called Claude & Sarkozy since it was founded in 1987. But it was forced to change its name in December last year following Arnaud Claude’s conviction in the Patrick Balkany case of tax evasion. The lawyer was given three years probation, a fine of 50,000 euros and a ban on practicing his profession. According to our information, the CSC holding company also acquired 80% of another law firm in 2019, DLDA Avocats, whose other shareholders are Me Jack Beaujard and Me Amélie du Lau d’Allemans.

When they retrain, most politicians draw a line under their official functions. It is easier. But Nicolas Sarkozy never does like everyone else. In late 2019, Emmanuel Macron sent him on an official visit to Japan to represent France in his place during the inauguration of the new emperor. He took the opportunity to visit Renault’s former manager, Carlos Ghosn, who was under house arrest at the time. How did they act? “Nicolas Sarkozy is the king of mixing genres,” judges journalist Clément Fayol. In February, he was welcomed in Guinea with all the protocol befitting a head of state. However, he intervened on behalf of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz in a funny mining conflict.

Like the other former tenants of the Elysée Palace still alive, Carla Bruni’s husband has nothing to worry about for his old age. He receives 74,700 euros each year from a former president’s pension and enjoys several benefits: free flights in First on Air France, delivery of ambassadorial residences abroad, company car with driver, payment of bills phone… In 2019, the state also paid him 866,000 euros for his general expenses (+ 4% over one year). Enough to pay rent and equipment in its offices (295,000 euros), as well as the salaries of its employees and agents (570,000 euros). For its part, François Hollande was “satisfied” with 756,000 euros (-6% compared to 2018). This lifelong annuity is regularly the subject of controversy. So much so that Emmanuel Macron has already announced that at the end of his (his?) Period (r?) He would not touch it. Will he be better than “Sarko” in business?

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In the bookstores he is always successful, much more so than François Hollande


The king of political books is him. By October 25, Nicolas Sarkozy had sold 164,436 copies of his memoirs. “The time of storms“, according to Editat. An impressive result for a book published only three months earlier, published by the Observatory. On the same date, François Hollande had sold 154,892 of his”learning of power(Stock, November 2018), in paperback and paperback format and over a longer period of time. The big winner of the category nonetheless remains a woman, Michelle Obama. The former US first lady sold 385,912 copies of “Be(Fayard) in France since November 2018.

NB: This article was published in December 2020 Capital magazine

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