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Lionel Laurent

Czech Billionaire Buys an Entree to the Paris Elite

Daniel Kretinsky’s purchase of a stake in Le Monde from Matthieu Pigasse has raised hackles. It’s a way to acquire influence, and maybe make money.

Can Daniel Kretinsky be the Jeff Bezos of Paris?

Can Daniel Kretinsky be the Jeff Bezos of Paris?

Photographer: Matthieu Alexandre/AFP/Getty Images

We live in a golden age of concentrated power, money and influence, and there’s nothing like a benevolent billionaire buying a struggling newspaper to combine all three.

Like a glitzy football team or prize racehorse, a media brand brings prestige, a public soap-box and political sway — and the whiff of a business opportunity as digital subscriptions start to offset the decline of print advertising. Driven by the belief that media platforms can tilt the balance of power away from President Donald Trump’s angry tweets, or from Mark Zuckerberg’s social-media empire, moguls have reason to keep buying. The risk is that good intentions give way as the realities of trying to make a success of a journalism business take hold.