EYEDEA has found a buyer
On 6 April 2010, the commercial court in Paris has chosen François Lochon, 54, former general director of Gamma Agency to take over the Eyedea group for 100.000 EUR.
The Eyedea group comprises some of the most prestigious names of France : Gamma, Rapho, Keystone but also Hoa Qui, Explorer, Jacana, Still and Top. According to newspaper Le Monde, Gamma and Rapho "embodied in the 1970s the excellence of photojournalism à la française ". Lochon will keep 22 of the former 65 staff and has committed not to sell any part of the agency's archive for the next 10 years.
Together the agencies have more than 30 million images, 11.000 authors, covering the entire 20th century. It is thought to be the third largest stock of photographs in the world.
Bought by Green Recovery, Eyedea's turnover had gone down 7 million euros with 65 staff members and in July 2009 Eyedea said they could not pay their bills. They filed for bankrupcy. At this time Eyedea Presse CEO Stephane Ledoux was quoted saying that the business of photojournalism was no longer viable as it has to adapt to globalisation and technical developments.
There were two other possible candidates. The first one was the people press agency, Abaca Press, together with Bertrand Eveno, former CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Médias. The second candidate was Philippe Bigard, former CEO of former RF Goodshoot sold to Jupiter Images in 2005, who was ready to pay 1 million EUR but only for the Keystone Archive and would have only kept 5 of the staff.
The French Ministry of Culture welcomed the choice of Lochon and as a sign of support asked the Réunion des musées nationaux "to look into the possibility of a distribution agreement for part of Keystone stock".
The acquisition of Eyedea takes place in a difficult context of severe competition, shrinking editorial prices and advertising revenues, newspapers circulation down, budgets for journalism and for photography being cut. Besides this the group has high debts, including 700.000 euros royalties owed to photographers.
François Lochon has no clear managerial concept but ardour and good will. He acknowledged that his offer was « atypical » but «heartfelt ». He says that « Paris will become the capital of photojournalism again ».
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