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Report: DFL prepares to resume Bundesliga media rights stake sale talks

Organiser of German soccer’s top two tiers to renew discussions in early February.

31 January 2023 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • DFL considering including domestic and international rights in any deal
  • Meanwhile, Serie A receives investment interest from Goldman Sachs

The German Football League (DFL) is preparing to restart talks with private equity firms over the sale of a stake in the Bundesliga’s media rights business, according to Bloomberg.

The DFL, which runs German soccer’s top two tiers, is reportedly considering including both its domestic and international rights in any deal. An agreement on resuming negotiations is expected to be agreed at a meeting in early February.

Reuters had reported last month that the DFL was delaying selling a stake until this year due to a lack of a consensus between the 36 clubs in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2.

Discussions with private equity firms eyeing a chunk of the DFL’s international broadcast rights business initially began in 2021. KKR, Bridgepoint and CVC Capital were all purportedly in the running for a 25 per cent stake which was expected to value the Bundesliga’s overseas broadcast rights at roughly €2 billion (US$2.2 billion). However, talks ceased in May that year.

It was later reported in August 2022 that the DFL had drafted in Deutsche Bank to lead the possible sale of a media package, covering domestic and international broadcast rights, to external investors. Parting with as much as 20 per cent of the unit, which could be valued at about €18 billion (US$19.5 billion) and bring in as much as €3.6 billion (US$3.9 billion), was said to be under consideration.

Advent International, Blackstone, and EQT, as well as CVC and KKR, were all linked with a deal.

Deliberations by the DFL working group tasked with studying potential new investment are currently ongoing and no final decisions have been made on the size, structure or timing of any deal, adds Bloomberg.

Elsewhere in European club soccer, Italy’s Serie A is fielding further investment interest from US financial giants, with Goldman Sachs considering providing financing for the league.

According to Bloomberg, the firm reportedly came forward in October and sent a letter to Serie A’s top brass expressing a preliminary interest as a financing partner to develop the top flight’s media business.

It comes after JPMorgan Chase & Co reportedly made an offer last week.

Much like the Bundesliga, Serie A has been mulling the creation of a spinoff media business. A €1.7 billion (US$1.8 billion) offer from a CVC-led consortium, which included Advent International and FSI, looked imminent, only for multiple clubs to block the proposal in 2021. Serie A was reportedly resurrecting its private equity plans in September 2021.

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