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Serie A accepts CVC-led €1.7bn bid to move closer to private equity investment

Tax and legal aspects of deal still to be finalised before transaction goes through.

20 November 2020 Sam Carp

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  • Serie A clubs unanimously agree to sell 10% stake in media business to private equity consortium
  • Deal will reportedly see CVC hold half the group’s shares, Advent 40% and FSI the remainder
  • Contract to run for at least six years, according to Reuters, with investors getting final say over unit’s CEO

A private equity consortium led by CVC Capital Partners is a step closer to acquiring a stake in Serie A’s new media business after Italy’s top-flight soccer clubs agreed to accept the group’s €1.7 billion (US$2 billion) offer.

The two parties have been in exclusive negotiations since October over a deal that will give CVC, Advent International and state-backed Italian fund FSI a ten per cent stake in a new company that will manage Serie A’s media rights. 

The 20 Serie A clubs have now voted unanimously in favour of the financial terms of the proposal, but Reuters reports there are still some tax and legal aspects that need to be finalised before the deal can close.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino described the deal as “a turning point” for the Italian soccer industry and said the investment will enable the league to “reaffirm Serie A’s brand worldwide”. 

Under the deal, according to the Financial Times (FT), CVC will own half of the consortium’s stake, Advent 40 per cent and FSI the remainder.

The terms of the agreement will see the consortium retain its stake for at least six years, according to Reuters, which added that the private equity group will also have final say over the choice of the newly created media company’s chief executive, with Serie A having a majority of one seat on the board.

The FT reported last week that talks had become complicated as CVC and Advent moved to insert a ‘breakaway’ clause in order to protect their investment if a rival European super league is launched, something that Dal Pino said Serie A would not agree to.

In any case, the deal will provide much-needed revenue for Italy’s top soccer competition, which has suffered €600 million (US$707 million) losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Dal Pino.

The agreement also comes ahead of Serie A’s next domestic media rights tender. The league’s current three-year deal with pay-TV broadcaster Sky and sports streaming subscription service DAZN, worth €973 million (US$1.14 billion) annually, expires at the end of the 2020/21 season.

It was previously reported by Milano Finanza that CVC’s group could look to sell Serie A’s domestic rights to the Amazon Prime streaming service if its bid proved successful.

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