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Advent ‘joins bidding race’ for Serie A stake

Bologna's Riccardo Orsolini competes for the ball with Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo during the Serie A match on June 22 (by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images)

Advent International has become the latest US investment firm to make a bid for a stake in Italian football’s Serie A, according to Bloomberg.

The news agency, citing people familiar with the matter, said Advent’s offer would value the top division of Italian football at around €13bn ($14.7bn).

Advent’s interest comes after fellow US investment firm Bain Capital was this month said to have made “a tentative offer” to buy a 25-per-cent stake in Serie A for €3bn. Bain is seeking to beat a €2.2bn bid by Luxembourg-based private equity company CVC Capital Partners, revealed in May.

Bain and CVC’s interest is reported to be driven by a desire for a stake in the league’s media rights business, which generates more than $1.5bn per season.

CVC’s bid was to acquire 20 per cent of a new company that would manage the media rights, Serie A’s international trademark and commercial development, and part-finance a new investment fund responsible for stadium development, according to a report in the Financial Times. The investment company was reported to have had a six-week exclusive negotiation period with the league, running until the end of June.

Another US private equity group, Blackstone, has been reported to be ready to offer Serie A a €100m loan to meet its clubs’ short-term needs during the Covid-19 business downturn. Serie A, like other sports rights-holders, is exploring options for obtaining funds to help it through the pandemic.

Serie A returned to action at the weekend and is scheduled to complete its 2019-20 season by playing matches on almost a daily basis through to August 2 following its suspension on March 9.

Lega Serie A, the league’s organising body, was presented with an immediate headache upon resumption as Qatari pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports did not show any Serie A matches in the 35 territories where it holds rights, amid tensions over the league’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, which beIN accuses of supporting pirate channel beoutQ.