HomeNewsFinance & LawFootballItaly

Serie A ‘sets 15-per-cent limit’ on private equity investment

Paulo Dybala of Juventus celebrates (Photo by Daniele Badolato - Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images)

Lega Serie A, the governing body of the top division of Italian club football, has placed a cap of 15 per cent on any potential private equity investment into a new commercial entity.

The limit was revealed in a letter from Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino to the seven interested parties, which are believed to include Wanda-Infront and CVC Capital Partners, alongside Bain Capital, Advent International, General Atlantic, TPG Capital and Apollo Global Management.

The deadline for proposals for investment falls this Friday, July 24, at 6pm (CET), and Dal Pino’s letter, seen by Italian business daily MF Milano Finanza, outlines the criteria for the bids.

The letter cites a stipulation that the offer must include “terms and conditions for the establishment of the partnership…for the minority shareholding to be sold by Lega Serie [A], up to a maximum limit of 15 per cent of the capital”.

Dal Pino adds that the proposals must contain a legal assessment confirming that the terms and conditions of the bid comply with Italy’s Melandri law, which governs the collective selling of media rights in the country.

Interested parties are also asked to specify “the structure relative to the governance of the partnership as well as the veto mechanisms on any matters reserved for the shareholders’ meeting and the board of directors”.

There is believed to be resistance to the investment among some Serie A clubs, with some of the presidents said to be reluctant to relinquish control over the league’s media rights and revenues. 

It is reported that the proposed solution to this would see the investment funnelled into a new company which would remain in the sole control of the league itself, ring-fencing the share of Serie A that is owned by the clubs. 

The appetite among private equity investors has increased since news of the initial CVC proposal first broke. Its reported €2.2bn ($2.4bn) proposal was said to include the acquisition of a 20-per-cent stake in a new company that would manage the broadcast rights, Serie A’s international trademark and commercial development, along with part-financing a new investment fund responsible for stadium development.

Reports concerning external investment in Serie A have been rife in recent weeks. Earlier this month,  Lega Serie A decided to continue to examine proposals from private equity investors following a general assembly meeting. It was recently reported that the French financial consultancy Lazard had been appointed by the Lega to help weigh the bids.

CVC had enjoyed an exclusive negotiation window but this is now thought to have expired.