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Report: KKR approaches Saudi Arabia’s PIF to support TIM bid

US private equity firm seeking capital to seal deal for Italian telecommunications giant.

12 January 2022 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • PIF would take ‘passive role’ in any deal, according to Bloomberg
  • KKR has also spoken to other sovereign wealth funds and infrastructure investors
  • Private equity firm submitted €10.8bn offer for TIM in November

US private equity fund KKR has approached Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) as it seeks backing for its proposed acquisition of telecommunications firm Telecom Italia (TIM), according to Bloomberg.

KKR reportedly reached out to the PIF to gauge its interest in providing capital for the deal. New-York headquartered KKR has also spoken to other sovereign wealth funds and infrastructure investors, Bloomberg adds.

Discussions are reportedly ongoing and the PIF would take a passive role in any deal should it come on board.

TIM was subject of a €10.8 billion (US$12.3 billion) offer from KKR back in November. In order to take the company private, the approach must be supported by both the TIM board and the Italian government.

However, Bloomberg notes that French media conglomerate Vivendi, TIM’s largest investor, has said it is ‘in for the long haul’ and has no plans to sell its stake. Vivendi also reportedly believes KKR’s bid does not reflect TIM’s fair value. As a result, KKR is purportedly discussing with advisers how much it would need to increase its bid to get a deal over the line.

Aside from its telecommunications offerings, TIM’s sporting division has contributed some €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) towards DAZN’s acquisition of the main package of domestic rights for Serie A. The company also signed a deal last June to remain the title sponsor of Italian soccer’s top flight for another three seasons.

The PIF, meanwhile, has been linked with a US$1 billion takeover of Italian soccer champions Inter Milan. Its involvement with KKR would also see it become the latest sovereign wealth fund to support private equity firms on major takeover bids. Last June, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Singapore’s GIC backed the more than US$30 billion acquisition of US healthcare giant Medline Industries by a group of buyout firms.

Elsewhere, Lega Serie A, the organising body for the top flight of Italian soccer, has signed a partnership with Chiliz-owned fan engagement platform Socios.com.

The arrangement includes Socios.com being named main sponsor of the Supercoppa and Coppa Italia finals.

The partnership further beefs out Socios.com’s presence in Italian soccer, which includes partnerships with clubs Inter, Juventus, AC Milan, Napoli, and AS Roma, as well as the Italian national team.

Socios.com’s considerable sponsorship outlay has also seen it become an official partner to more than 100 sporting organisations.

“In 2021 we grew our network by over 500 per cent and welcomed over a million new users to our platform,” said Alexandre Dreyfus, chief executive of Chiliz and Socios.com.

“We’ve got bigger aims for the next 12 months, so we’re delighted to begin 2022 with this major announcement that further solidifies our commitment to the Italian sports industry.”

Serie A has also teamed up with Maeci (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) and ICE (Agency for the promotion abroad and the internationalisation of Italian companies), which become the league’s international main partner for the promotion of the ‘beIT’ campaign.

Through the campaign, Serie A will aim to give Italian brands and lifestyle a major platform and exposure through its various international broadcast partners.

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