Robert Louis-Dreyfus

Robert Louis-Dreyfus ((1946-06-14)14 June 1946 – (2009-07-04)4 July 2009) was a French businessman who had major success as chief executive officer (CEO) of Adidas-Salomon and Saatchi & Saatchi. He was a majority shareholder of the French football team Olympique de Marseille, and during his tenure they re-emerged as a major European football club.

Robert Louis-Dreyfus
Born(1946-06-14)14 June 1946
Paris, France
Died4 July 2009(2009-07-04) (aged 63)
Zürich, Switzerland
Known forCEO of Adidas-Salomon and Saatchi & Saatchi
majority shareholder of Olympique de Marseille
Spouse(s)Sarah Oberholzer (m. 19??; div. 1989)
m. 1992)
Parent(s)Jean Louis-Dreyfus
Jeanne Madeline Depierre
RelativesMonique Roosmale Nepveu (sister)
Marie-Jeanne Meyer (sister)
Louis Louis-Dreyfus
(paternal grandfather)
Léopold Louis-Dreyfus
(paternal great-grandfather)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(paternal second cousin once removed)

Early lifeEdit

Robert Louis-Dreyfus was born in Paris, the son of Jean and Jeanne Madeline (née Depierre) Louis-Dreyfus.[1][2] His father was Jewish and his mother Roman Catholic.[3] He was a great grandson of Léopold Louis-Dreyfus, founder of the Louis-Dreyfus Group, which had begun buying and selling wheat in the Alsace region a century earlier, and rapidly diversified into shipping, oil and other commodities.[4] His grandfather was Louis Louis-Dreyfus, who served in the French Parliament during the French Third Republic.[5] He has two sisters: Marie-Jeanne and Monique.[6]

Robert Louis-Dreyfus was initially a bad student who failed his Baccalauréat,[7] but he excelled at poker, winning considerable amounts of money from his friends at the Lycée Janson de Sailly in Paris. In 1967, he spent time at a kibbutz and was involved in the Six-Day War. He later secured a place at Harvard Business School with a presentation about his experiences during the war.[4] He spent the early years of his working life mentored by Siegmund Warburg, in the family business of the Louis-Dreyfus Group.

Business careerEdit

In 1982 Louis-Dreyfus joined IMS, the US pharmaceutical research company enjoying spectacular monetary success. His original US$400,000 grew twentyfold by the time the company was sold in 1988. He served as CE at Saatchi & Saatchi, the United Kingdom-based advertising agency from 1989 to 1993.[8] Louis-Dreyfus invested his own money in Saatchi and Saatchi and during his tenure the agency grew considerably.

He proved equally successful when in 1994 he took the top job at Adidas, the German-based sporting goods maker. Louis-Dreyfus added to the brand by streamlining the product line and adding new companies to the group, including the Salomon ski-wear and golf company in 1997. He remained CEO of Adidas until 2001, combining this position with chairmanship of Neuf Telecom with whom he served until 2004. He also served as a director of Neuf Cegetel.

Robert Louis-Dreyfus re-joined the family company, Louis-Dreyfus Group, in May 2000, and restructured this major commodities trading and merchandising firm.

Sporting interestsEdit

In 1996 Louis-Dreyfus became the largest shareholder of Olympique de Marseille, a French football team who had been rocked by a match fixing scandal and relegated to the French second division. Louis-Dreyfus, with Adidas and the telecommunications company Neuf, sponsored the team; Louis-Dreyfus invested heavily in rebuilding the Marseille squad, marketing the team to the new immigrant populations in Marseille. The financial fortunes of the club improved with shirt sales rocketing. However, success, if judged purely on trophies won, eluded the club despite reaching the final of the UEFA Cup on two occasions and twice losing in the final of the Coupe de France. Olympique de Marseille also missed out on the Ligue 1 title during Louis-Dreyfus's tenure, though shortly before his death they finished second to FC Girondins de Bordeaux and qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League.[citation needed]

Louis-Dreyfus was also a shareholder in the Belgium football club Standard Liege, and was involved in the creation of Infront Sports & Media in 2002 (transition from the former KirchSport completed in February 2003) acting as the company's chairman of the board. The Swiss-based sports marketing agency was handling the media rights distribution of the FIFA World Cup in 2002 and 2006. Today it is the marketing partner of 130 sports federations and clubs.[citation needed]

FIFA World Cup bribery scandalEdit

In October 2015 the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that the bidding committee for the FIFA World Cup 2006 had set-up a slush fund that Louis-Dreyfus, at the time CEO of Adidas, filled with 10.3 million Swiss francs in 2000. Allegedly these funds were used to bribe FIFA officials and secure Germany's bid to host the 2006 World Cup, whilst a FIFA report had strongly criticised England's 'unprofessional' bid presentation. According to internal FIFA documents, Louis-Dreyfus demanded a repayment of the funds in 2004, which were transferred as €6.7 million via a FIFA account in Geneva to an account held by Louis-Dreyfus.[9]


Louis-Dreyfus died in Zürich aged 63 on 4 July 2009, following a long period with leukemia.[10][11]

Personal lifeEdit

Louis-Dreyfus was married twice. After divorcing his first wife, Sarah Oberholzer,[1] in 1989, he met his second wife Margarita Bogdanova, whom he married in 1992 and with whom he had three sons:[12] Eric, Maurice, and Kyril.[1] Louis-Dreyfus identified as an agnostic.[3] Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus is his second cousin once removed.

The enterprises are inherited and supervised by Margarita Louis-Dreyfus,[7] she is considered to be the richest Russian woman today.[13][14] Margarita inherited 60% of the organization (increased to 65% in 2012).[6] Robert's two sisters, Monique Louis-Dreyfus Roosmale Nepveu and Marie-Jeanne Louis-Dreyfus Meyer, each own 12% and are now both billionaires.[6]


  1. ^ a b c "Biographie Robert Louis-dreyfus Président de société". Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  2. ^ Bourdon, Jean-Claude and Jacques-Olivier Martin Robert Louis-Dreyfus: Les aventures d'un Don Juan des affaires (2007), 293 pages, ISBN 2-35228-003-6
  3. ^ a b Paris Match: "“Robert Louis-Dreyfus, un seigneur qui voyait loin et visait haut" by Jacques Veyrat July 8, 2009 (in French) | "...cet agnostique, fils d’un juif et d’une catholique..." / "...this agnostic, the son of a Jew and a Catholic..."
  4. ^ a b Pierre Perrone (17 July 2009). "Obituary: Robert Louis-Dreyfus: Businessman who helped resurrect Olympique Marseille football club" (newspaper). The Independent. United Kingdom: Independent News and Media Limited.
  5. ^ Sénat français. "Anciens sénateurs IIIème République : LOUIS-DREYFUS Louis". Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  6. ^ a b c "Rising Commodity Prices Created Three Louis-Dreyfus Billionaires". 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  7. ^ a b Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, fr.wikipedia
  8. ^ ""Mister Adidas" ist tot". Retrieved 2010-05-15.
  9. ^ "Fifa Fußball-WM 2006 mutmaßlich vom DFB gekauft - SPIEGEL ONLINE". 2015-10-16. Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  10. ^ [1]
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-11. Retrieved 2016-11-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, la tsarine des affaires - Madame Figaro". (in French). Retrieved 2017-02-23.
  13. ^ Маргарита Луи-Дрейфус, ru.wikipedia
  14. ^ "Маргарита Луи-Дрейфус. Первый класс. Фрагмент выпуска от 05.03.2012". 2017-02-17. Retrieved 2017-02-23.