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New Zealand Rugby exploring ‘appetite’ for NZ$100m share sale

National governing body seeking feedback from domestic institutional investors.

20 March 2023 Ed Dixon

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  • NZR had been due to offer additional co-investment in 2022
  • Main NZ$200m deal with Silver Lake confirmed last year
  • Private equity firm could up stake in NZR CommercialCo to 8.58% at end of co-investment drive

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) is gauging demand on the proposed sale of up to NZ$100 million (US$62.5 million) of shares in its commercial business to domestic institutional investors.

The national governing body intends to speak to potential investors to measure interest in a capital raise, which would see parties secure a stake in the business of the famous All Blacks brand.

“Hopefully those explorations will happen over the next few months to understand if there is an appetite in the institutions in New Zealand to do it,” Richard Thomas, chief executive of NZR CommercialCo, told Bloomberg.

“Once that’s known, we’ll know whether we’re going through with that institutional raise or not.”

The proposed capital raise was initially announced last year when US private equity firm Silver Lake secured a minority stake in NZR’s newly-formed commercial vehicle in a deal worth NZ$200 million (US$125 million).

At the time, NZR said the global financier would provide capital to invest in rugby union at all levels and support ‘the development of new capabilities’ and ‘the pursuit of new global opportunities enabled by digital technologies’.

The additional co-investment of up to NZ$100 million was due to be offered to local institutions later in 2022, thus giving local capital the chance to participate in the deal, but failed to materialise.

With those plans now back on the agenda, Thomas said the terms of the proposed raise remain unchanged, which will see NZ$62.5 million (US$39.1 million) to NZ$100 million of shares offered to New Zealand investors in a deal underwritten by Silver Lake.

At the end of the co-investment drive, Silver Lake could increase its stake in NZR CommercialCo from the current 5.71 per cent to 8.58 per cent, depending on the extent it participates in the raise. It had previously been proposed that the firm would take a ten per cent to 15 per cent stake before agreeing its deal last year.

Thomas also commented on the partnership with Silver Lake so far, saying it will initially focus on a “strategic pathway”. NZR wants to establish a more direct connection with fans, with Thomas adding “non-live content” would be an element of that.

“I expect to start to see some things happen in the second half of the year,” he said.

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