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Hertha Berlin: Former owner confirms 777 Partners paid less than €15m up front for majority stake

Ex-owner Lars Windhorst has yet to be paid in total for his stake.

24 July 2023 Josh Sim

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  • Windhorst made the comments as part of a legal cross-examination in London earlier this month
  • 777 Partners added Hertha to its lengthy roster of soccer clubs earlier this year

German financier Lars Windhorst has confirmed that US-based 777 Partners paid less than €15 million (US$16.62 million) up front for his majority stake in soccer club Hertha Berlin.

During a court hearing in London earlier this month, Windhorst revealed that he had sold the German club for a €65 million (US$72.02 million) purchase price, which was offset against a loan previously made by the US investment firm valued at €50 million (US$55.4 million). A ‘performance-related’ payment was also included in the transaction, which could be worth up to €35 million (US$38.77 million).

The 46-year-old also stated that 777 had yet to pay the entirety of the €15 million (US$16.62 million) owed, admitting that he could not remember how much he had been paid up to now. In spite of this, he took issue with the barrister’s assertion that 777 had defaulted on the deal, which was agreed in March.

“There was no default as far as I’m concerned,” he said to the court, as quoted by the Financial Times (FT). Windhorst also explained that he had agreed to have some of the payment paid in installments, and that there was the possibility of earning a “triple-digit” million amount from the transaction in the future.

The financier was then pressed on how such a windfall was possible, given the deal only allowed for an extra €35 million (US$38.77 million) as a maximum bonus payment should Hertha win the Bundesliga. The 46-year-old said in response that he was “not on top” of the deal’s intricacies, adding that he was “personally doing lots of transactions.” Hertha were relegated from the Bundesliga at the end of the 2022/23 season.

Windhorst spoke of the Hertha sale as part of being examined by lawyers as part of a legal dispute with the Heritage Travel and Tourism company owned by Monegasque tycoon Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, which aims to recover a debt of more than €172 million (US$190.88 million). Earlier this month, London’s High Court issued him with a €150 million (US$166.35 million) freezing order after another claim was filed against him.

SportsPro says…

Windhorst’s comments come not long after a report from Bloomberg stated 777 plans to raise more than €200 million (US$221.7 million) for its lengthy portfolio of soccer clubs.

The firm has made quick inroads into soccer club ownership, establishing one of the largest multi-club ownership models in the world. Yet it has attracted criticism for its business strategy, with an article published by Josimar Football questioning its inability to find wealthy partners for sustained investment in its teams. It also asked questions concerning the possibility of return on investment (ROI), with US court papers having previously levied charges of fraud, extortion and racketeering against 777’s companies.

777 has not been in charge at Hertha for long, so it is too early to assess its investment into the club as of now. But given Windhorst’s revelation about the private equity firm having yet to pay him in totality for his stake, it does raise questions about whether 777 can maintain its investment across so many soccer teams.

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