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By ESPN Staff

Olympique Lyon hope to raise €84m with IPO

PARIS, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon said on Friday it would seek to raise at least €84 million (£55.3million) through what would be the first initial public offering of shares in a French football club.

The country's league leader, which has won five consecutive national titles, said it aimed to sell 3.7 million new shares at between €21.0 and €24.4 with an option to sell an additional 550,000 shares in case of strong demand.

'With this IPO project OL Groupe enters a new stage of its history,' Chairman and Chief Executive Jean-Michel Aulas said in a statement.

'This will allow the group to access new financial resources in order to accelerate our growth strategy and continue our focused development, based on the diversification of group revenues and profits.'

In its financial year to June 30, 2006, Olympique had sales of €166.1 million, or €127.7 million excluding transfer fees revenue, and a net profit of €15.9 million.

The offer, being managed by BNP Paribas and Calyon, closes on Feb. 7.

Lyon will be the first club to float its shares after France earlier this year amended a law preventing professional sports clubs from listing on the stock market.

Under the new law soccer clubs are allowed to list if they can show a strong balance sheet and business plan and would have to be in a position to afford a modern stadium.

Aulas, also the club's main shareholder and head of French information technology company Cegid , has previously said some of the funds raised would help build a stadium with a capacity for 60,000 spectators.

Many soccer clubs from other European leagues have listed in recent years, with differing fortunes. Manchester United and Chelsea, two of the wealthiest, have been taken private again.