Much is made of ASO’s dominant position in the sport but how much money does the Parisian race owner make? Here’s a closer look at the finances of Amaury Sport Organisation.
The chart shows data sourced from the filed accounts of Amaury Sport Organisation. The latest set of accounts show annual revenue for 2016 of €220 million and profits of €45.9 million (highlighted in red).
Overall ASO’s finances are very healthy with growing revenues, solid profits and strong margins. On top of this the firm has next to no debts, its creditors are suppliers and the tax authorities rather than banks. The firm employed 311 people according the 2016 accounts.
The Tour de France is only a part of this. According to Wikipedia the Tour accounted for 55% of ASO’s business citing an online newspaper article which says no such thing leaving us to speculate on the importance of the Tour de France within the group. It is probably their most important asset but just how much it contributes to revenue and profits is not shown.
Other events include races you will know like Paris-Roubaix, the Critérium du Dauphiné, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Vuelta, the Tour de Yorkshire races as well the Arctic Race of Norway and staging the Tour of California in conjunction with AEG. New for 2018 will be the revived Deutschland Tour which is part of ASO’s dash into Germany, it has taken over the Frankfurt GP too. There’s more beyond cycling like the Tour de France à la Voile, a sailing race along the French coastline; the Paris-Dakar rally; the Open de France golf tournament; the Paris marathon and more. Paris-Dakar is a big deal for ASO and much of the commentary in the last set of accounts relate to this motorsport event.
Back in cycling there’s a push for more derivative events like the Shanghai and Saitama criteriums featuring the pros (Saitama was “a lively success” says commentary the accounts). You can ride too with events like the the Etape du Tour, not only a stage of the Tour de France on closed roads in July but now branded events around the world with participation from the likes of Chris Froome included. It’s often said several of ASO’s pro cycling events lose money and money from the Tour de France helps keep them afloat. While this sounds plausible the accounts neither show nor disprove this.
However separate accounts do exist for the Critérium du Dauphiné which ASO bought from the Dauphiné Libéré newspaper in 2010. Here is the revenue and profit lifted from the last four sets of accounts.
As the documents show the Dauphiné’s annual budget is around two million Euros and it breaks even with a meagre profit: just €11,892 for 2016. Remember this is consistently one of the best stage races of the year attracting a stellar field and offering a sublime Alpine route but it’s no money spinner.
Who owns ASO? The full name is Amaury Sport Organisation and it is a subsidiary of Editions P Amaury, a mini media empire owned in full by the Amaury family after they bought out minority shareholders in 2013 in a deal that implied the whole of ASO was worth €365 million. Marie-Odile Amaury heads up the Groupe Amaury and her son Jean-Etienne (pictured) is président of ASO’s board which makes him the boss of the Tour de France. Christian Prudhomme may be the face of the Tour de France but he’s staff. The last set of accounts show ASO paid €30 million in dividends upwards to the Editions P Amaury holding company.
History: Émilien Amaury started out as a coursier, a cyclist who delivered newspapers hot off the press to kiosks and ended up in charge of large printing firm. During World World Two and France’s Nazi occupation Amaury was given the contract to print propaganda for the Pétain regime but used his firm’s privileged status and access to rationed printing supplies to covertly print resistance materials which meant once the war ended he was able to launch the Parisien Libéré newspaper and helped to revive another title called L’Auto – today L’Equipe – and relaunched the Tour de France after its wartime hiatus. Émilien died in a horse riding accident in 1977 and after a long legal spat over the inheritance the business passed to his son Philippe and daughter Francine. Upon Philippe’s death his surviving wife Marie-Odile took over.
Today: the Amaury family sold off Le Parisien in 2015 retain L’Equipe which is now a newspaper and a TV channel. ASO is an increasingly important part of the Amaury group’s business and the Tour de France is central to this.
How wealthy is ASO? This piece provides the numbers and ASO’s accounts show a company in rude health with the 2016 accounts showing record revenues and profits were only just down despite taking a hit on the Paris-Dakar motorsport rally. ASO is more than the Tour de France although the race has to be its prime asset.
It’s wealthy for a race organiser in pro cycling yet for the sake of argument imagine the Tour accounts for 50% of ASO’s activities and thereby about €23 million in annual profits. This sum is hardly game-changing if it were magically to be donated to the 18 World Tour teams. Instead ASO’s power is perhaps not financial but structural because it owns and controls the sport’s biggest competition and stages more races on the pro cycling calendar than any other. Add up the races ASO owns, runs and has marketing or television distribution agreements and it accounts for 53% of the number of days of racing in the World Tour calendar.