Serge Dassault has purchased three local newspapers in the area in which he is expected to campaign for a seat in the French National Assembly in next year’s legislative elections. The three weekly newspapers were bought from Semif, a subsidiary of the France Antilles group owned by press magnate Philippe Hersant.
Dassault, who is honorary president of Dassault Aviation, has for some time sought to have a newspaper in which to express his opinions. In 1997 he said he wanted to be able to “respond to some journalists who have not reported in a very pleasant way.” He unsuccessfully tried to buy L’Express, a major news weekly. Two years later he attempted to acquire France Soir, a leading Paris evening newspaper. He also tried to purchase the major daily Le Figaro.
Semif was bought by Spif, a publishing house in which Serge Dassault is the majority shareholder. Spif already owns the financial daily Le Journal de Finances, the economic weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles and Spectacle du Monde, a film magazine. The three newly acquired newspapers are the Republicain de l’Essonne, which sells 24,000 copies, Toutes les nouvelles de Versailles (18,200 copies) and the Gazette du Val d’Oise, which sells 7,300 copies.
Dassault, 76, this year was reelected to a six-year term as mayor of Corbeil-Essonnes in the suburbs of Paris and recently announced he would be standing in next year’s legislative elections for the conservative RPR party against the sitting Socialist representative. He denies having bought the only newspaper in the Essonnes area for electoral reasons.