Football: Private equity firm CVC weighs buying $3 billion stake in Italy's top league Serie A

Serie A is seeking funding at a time league play has been been suspended for about two months amid a nationwide lockdown.
Serie A is seeking funding at a time league play has been been suspended for about two months amid a nationwide lockdown.PHOTO: AFP

(BLOOMBERG/ REUTERS) - CVC Capital Partners is considering buying a minority stake in Italy's top football league in a move that would give the buyout firm access to one of the world's top sporting showcases, home to star players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Fellow private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc is also in separate talks about investments in Serie A, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday (May 5).

CVC is in talks to purchase as much as 20 per cent of Serie A for about 2 billion euros (S$3 billion), according to people with knowledge of the matter.

That would value the league at about 10 billion euros, they said, asking not to be named as discussions are not public.

In the deal, the fund would buy a minority stake in a league unit that also own its lucrative TV rights, the people said.

Talks, which have been underway for several weeks, could still fall apart and the size of the investment has not been finalised, they said.

Serie A is seeking funding at a time league play has been been suspended for about two months amid a nationwide lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Blackstone is separately considering lending to clubs to help cover their costs during the shutdown of fixtures, the report added, citing people familiar with the proposal. Blackstone declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

CVC and Serie A did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

 
 
 

CVC has prior experience with investments in sports-related businesses.

The private equity firm, which manages about US$82 billion of assets, has invested in Formula One auto racing and has weighed buying a stake in the Six Nations global rugby organisation.

Italian teams such as Juventus have reached agreements with players to reduce compensation as the virus outbreak forced the league to halt play.

AC Milan, owned by US investment fund Elliott Management Corp, is also considering cutting player salaries.

Italy eased its nationwide lockdown Monday, allowing more than four million employees to return to work and permitting people to leave their homes for certain activities, including jogging and trips to parks. No date has been set yet for a return to play for Serie A.