Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has opened preliminary talks over a shareholding in the Six Nations Championship, The Times reports.
The rumoured deal would appear to suit both parties. CVC is looking to add more rugby properties to its portfolio, having paid £230m for a 27-per-cent stake in Premiership Rugby late last year. At the time, CVC made clear that it felt rugby’s commercial and broadcast rights were being significantly undervalued and had major growth potential.
Six Nations Ltd, meanwhile, is known to be targeting commercial growth and would be open to minority investment. The six national unions have opened a process known as Project Light to investigate the best way to maximise their commercial rights sales in the future.
Should it materialise, the move would likely kill off the rumoured ‘Nations Championship’, which would see the Six Nations Championship folded into a global competition involving southern hemisphere teams. The Six Nations unions have significant doubts about the viability of the tournament and worry that it would dilute, rather than increase, the value of their property. They have already taken steps to begin negotiating their broadcast and media rights as a single package, a move they believe would create a much more valuable offering.
CVC’s plans for rugby domination don’t end there. The company is also in talks with the Pro14, the club competition involving sides from Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Italy and South Africa. These discussions are at an advanced stage and the purchase, should it go through, would offer CVC the chance to sell the commercial and media rights for the Premiership and the Pro14 together, significantly boosting the value of both.
While CVC made a profit of almost £5bn on its sale of Formula One to Liberty Media, it was also widely felt across the world of motorsport that Formula One’s rights, particularly its media rights, were being under-exploited.