Eiffel Tower Restaurant That Hosted Trump Set to Change Operator

(Bloomberg) -- Paris’s renowned Eiffel Tower restaurant, where French President Emmanuel Macron hosted his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump last year, may get a new operator.

French caterer Sodexo appears set to beat domestic rival Elior Group SA in the race for the concession to run the “Jules Verne,” the restaurant atop the landmark tower, for the next 10 years.

The Societe d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, which operates, maintains and organizes events at the site, Thursday gave its recommendation in favor of the Sodexo project, a spokeswoman for Elior wrote in emailed comments in response to questions by Bloomberg. Elior is now waiting for the final decision by the Paris Council, due in September, she wrote.

“The decision by the SETE is unknown at this time, we have no information to confirm or deny,” a spokeswoman for Sodexo said in an email.

Both caterers are trying to turn around their business after challenging months that led to several profit warnings and management changes. A win for the prestigious Tour Eiffel restaurant, where Macron and his wife Brigitte hosted a dinner for Trump and his wife Melania a year ago, would give Sodexo, whose shares are down 42 percent so far this year, a shot in the arm.

Eiffel Tower Restaurant That Hosted Trump Set to Change Operator

Sodexo, which is set to hold a capital markets day on Sept. 6, is trying to make a comeback. Yesterday it reported third-quarter organic revenue figures that beat estimates, allaying concerns among investors that had been fleeing the sector after the spate of profit warnings.

The shares were trading about 1 percent lower as of 3:10 p.m. in Paris on Friday, after jumping 8.7 percent yesterday.

On Sodexo, the question now “changes from ‘will they miss (again)’ to ‘will they beat,”’ Richard Clarke, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in London, wrote in a note to clients earlier today.

Elior, which also hired a new chief financial officer in recent months, last week announced an agreement to buy Bateman Community Living, a division of Compass Group, to expand its position in the U.S. in senior nutrition. Shares in Elior, a stock that had been a market darling until the sudden departure of CEO Pedro Fontana almost a year ago, are down 28 percent so far this year.

Sodexo’s project -- featuring chefs Frederic Anton and Thierry Marx from the “Le Pre Catelan” restaurant -- came out ahead of the one by Elior and the famous chef Alain Ducasse, who oversaw the Jules Verne kitchen up until now, according to report earlier today by Le Figaro.

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