Lagardere chief says Egypt probe into CAF deal ‘unfounded’
CAIRO - The CEO of French company Lagardere Sports has defended the rigorousness of a negotiation process with the Confederation of African Football (CAF) that is being investigated by Egyptian prosecutors.
Egypt's competition watchdog referred CAF chief Issa Hayatou to prosecutors on Thursday, accusing him of breaching monopoly rules in an exclusive billion-dollar television deal with Lagardere.
The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA), which operates under Egypt's industry ministry, said the deal for the rights to broadcast African football tournaments breached anti-trust laws.
But Lagardere Sports says the allegations are "wholly unfounded" and CEO Andrew Georgiou said on Friday: "We're confident of our position and over time I think we'll be vindicated.
"We're happy that the process was a good process. It was actually a tough negotiation with CAF. We've changed a number of things and we're really happy that CAF is getting good value for what we've done.
"The key for us is we're confident in our position. We just need to let time show that."
The CAF denies any wrongdoing.
The ECA announced the measure just days before the start of the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
The CAF, based in Cairo, in June 2015 extended a broadcasting deal with Lagardere Sports for its tournaments until 2028 in return for a financial guarantee of at least $1 billion.
Lagardere secured the media and marketing rights for all CAF tournaments, including the Cup of Nations, which starts on January 14.
Lagardere gave the Qatari-owned beIN Sports network rights for the Cup of Nations in the Middle East and North Africa, which includes Egypt.
The ECA accused Hayatou of giving the broadcast rights to Lagardere "without offering them to other companies interested in acquiring them in a normal framework that guarantees free and fair competition".
The CAF falls under Egyptian law under the agreement because it is based in Cairo, the ECA said.
The Egyptian watchdog demanded that the CAF cancel the agreement with Lagardere and said that for 2017 to 2028, the CAF must make a new broadcast rights tender in Egypt.