Lazard to advise Serie A on investment offers as TPG and BofA join list of suitors
Serie A has selected Lazard, the financial advisor, to weigh up the private equity bids for the Italian soccer league, which are now nearing double figures.
Lazard will work closely with Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino, who earlier this week was given a mandate by the 20 top-flight clubs to continue discussions with the would-be investors until the end of July.
There are now eight funds and one bank to have expressed interest in partnering with Serie A, with US investment firm TPG and Bank of America the latest to join the race this week, with the attraction of getting involved in the league’s media rights sales, which generate around $1.5 billion each season, 60 per cent of total revenue.
TPG was last month linked with a $125 million purchase of soccer website Goal.com from DAZN Group, the international digital sports media company.
Lazard will evaluate the different options on the table, but detailed offers have not been submitted from any of the parties because CVC Capital Partners is still in an exclusive negotiating window.
CVC's €2.2 billion ($2.47 billion) bid came in mid-May. It is looking to buy 20 per cent of a new company that would manage Serie A’s broadcasting rights for 10 years from 2021, as well as 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.
Last month Bain Capital made a rival offer of €3 billion to buy a 25-per-cent stake in Serie A, while Advent International's offer would value the league at €13 billion.
Blackstone, another private equity firm, was reported in early May to have been in discussions with the league around lending clubs money to help cover costs during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown. Italian media reports at the time ascertained Blackstone’s potential contribution to be a loan of €100 million.
Other investment firms linked with the league are USA-based KKR, Italy's FSI and London-headquartered Cinven.
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, but that deal is set to expire next year.
Pay-TV operator Sky and over-the-top service DAZN hold domestic Serie A rights in a three-year deal worth €973 million per season (€780 million from Sky and €193 million from DAZN), running to the end of the 2020-21 campaign, while international agency IMG handles international media and other commercial rights in a deal worth more than €360 million per season.
Serie A has spent much of the last year mulling over a bid from Spanish agency Mediapro, worth €1.28 billion per season, to operate an in-house television channel for the league in the 2021-22 to 2023-24 cycle.
Those talks stalled towards the end of last year.