Matthieu Pigasse to quit as CEO of Lazard France

Laurent BARTHELEMY
Matthieu Pigasse (pictured November 2012), the chairman and chief executive of investment bank Lazard France, will step down at the end of 2019 (AFP Photo/Fabrice COFFRINI)

Paris (AFP) - French investment banker Matthieu Pigasse, a major shareholder in France's Le Monde newspaper, is to resign his executive positions at Lazard, the US investment bank announced Sunday.

Pigasse, chairman and chief executive of Lazard France, will step down at the end of the year, said the statement on the bank's website.

"I am excited to begin my next chapter beyond investment banking in a new entrepreneurial project," Pigasse said in the statement.

While he has given no details of the project, one source told AFP Sunday that Pigasse would be elaborating in the coming weeks.

Pigasse is also deputy CEO of Lazard's financial advisory.

As well as his roles at Lazard, Pigasse is known in France as a major investor in the news media. His LNEI group owns a package of media outlets including Les Inrocks magazine and radio stations.

In 2010, he also helped refinance France's centre-left daily newspaper Le Monde, along with other investors.

He sold some of his stake last year to billionaire Czech investor Daniel Kretinsky, sparking fears at the paper over its editorial independence.

In September, around 500 writers, artists and activists including US whistleblower Edward Snowden and novelist Salman Rushdie signed an open letter of support for journalists seeking guarantees.

Pigasse and other investors signed an agreement later the same month to allay those concerns.

While Lazard praised Pigasse's role at the bank in its statement Sunday, some news reports have suggested there were tensions between Pigasse and other senior executives at the bank.

France's investigative website Mediapart reported on Wednesday that Pigasse was on the way out. Lazard chief executive Ken Jacob had decided on an impromptu visit to Paris from Sunday to Tuesday to finalise Pigasse's departure, it reported.

Lazard France said in its statement Sunday that a new management team for its French operation would be announced shortly.