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Report: Matchroom Sport ends minority stake sale talks with CVC

Sports promotion company and private equity firm unable to agree on price.

9 May 2023 Ed Dixon

Getty Images

  • Barry and Eddie Hearn value Matchroom at UK£100m more than CVC’s UK£700m proposal
  • Matchroom could purse deal with another investor or public listing

Matchroom Sport has ended talks with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners over the sale of a minority stake in the sports promotion company, according to Sky News.

The pair were reportedly in exclusive negotiations but were unable to agree on a price, with discussions falling apart late last month.

Sky News had initially reported last June that Matchroom was in talks with at least three private equity firms, with CVC, KKR and Searchlight Capital all linked with a deal for a substantial minority stake.

The deal between Matchroom, which was founded by Barry Hearn and is now run by his son Eddie Hearn (pictured above), and CVC would have reportedly valued the sports promoter at roughly UK£700 million (US$883 million. It is understood that the Hearns believe Matchroom is worth UK£100 million (US$126 million) more than that figure.

The sale of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) last month to sports and entertainment group Endeavor, which gave the wrestling promotion an enterprise value of US$9.3 billion, is said to have fuelled Matchroom’s expectations about the future value of its business.

CVC, meanwhile, purportedly wants to retain pricing discipline amid surging valuations for premium sports assets. The firm’s sports investment portfolio already includes LaLiga, Ligue 1, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Gujarat Titans, as well as rugby union’s Six Nations, Gallagher Premiership and United Rugby Championship (URC).

While Essex-based Matchroom and CVC have broken off talks, it is possible they could be revived, though this is said to be unlikely at the moment. It is unclear if KKR and Searchlight will reignite their interest.

Sky News adds that Matchroom could also purse a deal with another investor or, eventually, a public listing for its shares.

Matchroom declined to comment.

The Sky News report also reiterates that the Hearns have no intention to relinquish control of Matchroom, which launched in 1982. The company first focused on snooker and darts before branching out into basketball, boxing, fishing, gymnastics, netball, pool, tenpin bowling and poker.

Today, Matchroom is best known for its boxing operation. Last week, Matchroom Boxing penned a three-year extension to its broadcast partnership with DAZN in the US and Mexico. Prior to that, the sports streaming subscription service became the global home of Matchroom Boxing in a five-year pact signed in June 2021, which is reportedly worth well into nine figures.

Matchroom’s boxing stable includes Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, Ireland’s undefeated Katie Taylor and former heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua.

In an interview with The Sunday Times in March, Eddie Hearn revealed that his father was reluctant to part with Matchroom, despite stepping back from the business.

“It’s such a difficult conversation over Sunday lunch, because my dad has always said to me: ‘Whatever you do, do not sell this business, do not let people into the business, do not let people affect your decisions. This is our company – we will make all the decisions, and that’s how it will always be,’ said the younger Hearn.

“But I recognise that through our growth, there is another level. We are already operating at a level that no one ever expected us to, but there’s so much more potential for growth.”

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