a media industry resource

Hersant, Dassault & Socpresse: Landmarks


This chronology is indicative only. It covers -

  • antecedents (1826)
  • beginnings (1940)
  • Hersant goes national (1975)
  • and international (1989)
  • end of the Hersant era (1996)
  • takeover by Dassault (2004)

Context is provided by the broader communications and media timeline on this site.


1826 Le Figaro founded

1859 Le Progrès de Lyon founded

1866 Le Figaro becomes Paris's leading newspaper

1914 Marcel Bloch graduates as aeronautical engineer

1918 establishes aircraft manufacturing company

1920 Robert Hersant born

1922 Le Figaro bought by perfumier François Coty

1934 Le Figaro revived by Pierre Brisson after passing to Coty's ex-wife

1936 government nationalises Avions Marcel Bloch-Breguet Aviation


1940 Hersant founds Jeune Front far-right political party in France

1941 becomes director of Marshal Petain Youth Centre

1942 launches Jeune Forces newspaper

1942 Le Figaro suspended

1942 L'Aurore founded

1944 regional daily Midi Libre independently founded in Montpellier

1944 Marcel Bloch arrested by Gestapo and sent to Buchenwald

1944 Le Figaro revived

1945 Hersant jailed for collaboration with Germans

1945 Bloch changes name to Dassault, launches new aircraft company

1947 Hersant condemned to 10 years of 'national indignity'

1950 consortium led by Jean Prouvost gains control of Le Figaro from Mme Coty

1951 Boussac buys L'Aurore

1952 Hersant amnestied

1952 founds L'Auto Journal

1956 election to French national parliament declared invalid

1957 founds Centre Presse newspaper and magazine group

1961 Dassault spins off avionics arm

1964 Prouvost increases Figaro stake

1967 Société des Avions Marcel Dassault company takes 66% of Breguet Aviation

1970 Prouvost becomes main shareholder in Figaro

1971 Breguet Aviation merges with Société des Avions Marcel Dassault

Hersant goes national

1975 Hersant buys Le Figaro for F75m

1980 buys L'Aurore from Boussac

1980 Le Figaro merged with L'Aurore

1984 Hersant elected as Euro MP

1986 Hersant buys Le Progrès de Lyon and eight other Lyons papers

1986 takes stake in La Cinq tv network in France (partnering Berlusconi) after Seydoux's Pathé group withdraws

1987 buys Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes in New Caledonia

And international

1989 buys 40% stake in Rossel newspaper group in Belgium

1990 Hersant and Berlusconi withdraw from La Cinq

1990 Hersant sells some minor newspapers in France

1991 Hersant buys Hungarian national daily Magyar Nemzet (later sold)

1991 buys 51% of Polish national daily Rzeczpospolita

1991 buys Tempo, Dziennik Baltycki, Dziennik Lodzki, Trybuna Slaska, Express Ilustrowany, Wieczor Wybrzeza, Dziennik Zachodni and Gazeta Krakowska in Poland

1994 sells most Polish regional dailies

1994 sells some magazine titles to EMAP

1996 sells stake in Rzeczpospolita to Orkla for US$45m

End of the Hersant era

1996 Robert Hersant dies, group begins restructuring

2000 sells 20% of stake in Le Figaro

2000 buys French 1st Division club FC Nantes

2001 sells stake in Figaro to Carlyle Group, owner of Baker & Taylor

2001 buys 60% of Pessiot Tierce publishing

2001 buys 53% of Marne Hebdo

2002 Dassault group buys 30% stake in Socpresse

2002 Carlyle Group sells stake in Figaro

2002 Socpresse buys Vivendi's Groupe Express-Expansion and Groupe l'Etudiant consumer press arm for €200m

2003 Hersant's France Antilles group buys Vivendi's Comareg for €135m

Takeover by Dassault

2004 Dassault buys 50% of Socpresse from Hersant heirs, taking stake to 80%