CVC and Serie A open exclusive negotiating window over €2.2bn deal
CVC Capital Partners, the private equity group with a history of sporting involvement, has entered into exclusive talks with Serie A about a €2.2 billion ($2.4 billion) investment in Italian soccer's top flight with media rights central to any deal.
CVC's interest in the league became apparent earlier this month and the group has now been given six weeks to negotiate an agreement, the Financial Times reported today.
CVC is proposing to acquire 20 per cent of a new company that will manage Serie A’s broadcasting rights from 2021, the international trademark for the league and its commercial development.
That would crucially include construction and maintenance (partly financed by CVC) of stadia across Italy, many of which have hardly been updated since the country hosted the 1990 Fifa World Cup.
Italy has been linked with a bid for the 2028 European Championships, with the promise of upgraded facilities considered essential to the bid.
CVC’s offer will initially be examined by Serie A’s board, led by president Paolo Dal Pino, as well as the presidents of Juventus, Lazio, Napoli and Atalanta. Other clubs are likely to come on board over the next six weeks.
Domestic Serie A rights are presently held by pay-TV's Sky Italia and over-the-top streaming service DAZN in three-year deals worth €973 million per season that came into effect at the start of the 2018-19 campaign.
However, the league has spent much of the last year mulling over a bid from Spanish agency Mediapro, worth €1.283 billion per season, to operate an in-house television channel for the league for the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle.
Those talks stalled towards the end of last year.
The Infront Italy agency has a six-year, €5.94-billion minimum guarantee agreement with Serie A to act as its exclusive adviser on both domestic and international media rights, running to 2021.
CVC has been building a reputation as a major player in sport over the last few years, particularly in rugby union, although a deal worth £300 million ($364 million) for the group to take a 14-per-cent stake in Europe's prestigious Six Nations competition is currently on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The private equity firm is also close to acquiring a 27-per-cent stake in the Pro14, the Europe-based club rugby competition, having secured a similar-size stake in England’s top-tier Premiership Rugby in a deal completed at the end of 2018.
In soccer, reports emerged towards the end of 2019 that CVC was in talks with global governing body Fifa over handling commercial and broadcasting rights for the expanding Club World Cup competition, although it is understood to have abandoned those plans and set its sights on Serie A.
CVC owned Formula 1 between 2006 and 2016.