A joint investment proposal from private equity houses CVC, Advent and FSI, and one led by a separate consortium consisting of Bain Capital and NB Renaissance Partners are reported to be leading the running to drive the next stage of Italian Serie A’s commercial development.
The two proposals are understood to be among six to eight binding bids submitted ahead of an August 28 deadline set by the league, which has been examining the idea of securing outside investment.
The league deems the two proposals, which each would involve the separate consortiums taking a shareholding in the league, as the most worthy of consideration, according to Italian publication Sole 24 Ore. The remaining bids are thought to be a mix of financing and securitization proposals that don’t seek to take an equity position.
Last week the Financial Times reported, CVC Capital Partners, Advent International and Italian firm Fondo FSI had come together to offer €1.3bn ($1.53bn/£1.17bn) for a 10-per-cent share in a new company that would manage Serie A’s media rights, international trademark and commercial development. The bid would also include a business plan for growing the league’s rights revenues.
CVC and Advent’s bid would see the private equity firms control 50 per cent of a board overseeing the league’s commercial affairs with the teams controlling the remaining 50 per cent and an independent chair to hold a deciding vote.
The second bid from Bain Capital and NB Renaissance is thought to be structured along similar lines, with the consortium also seeking a 10 per-cent stake in the new media rights company for €1.3bn. The funds would appoint the chief executive of the organisation while the 20 teams in the league would appoint its president.
The other proposals include a hybrid submission from the Fortress Group offering €4.8bn in securitization and a bridging loan of €1.75bn. The firm is also understood to have discussed forming a consortium with Apax Partners and Three Hills Capital Partners but it is not clear if this coalesced into a bid.
There are also financing proposals from General Atlantic, GSO-Blackstone, Apollo, and Sixth State, the credit wing of American buyout giant TPG.
French financial consultancy Lazard and legal consultancy Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli & Partners are advising the league on the different binding offers and have drafted a summary document for the 20 clubs in the league.
For the two leading private equity proposals to go ahead, 14 of Serie A’s 20 clubs will have to vote in favour of creating the new rights management company and 15 will have to vote in favour of any bid. Clubs have until September 9 to make their decisions.
It is not yet clear whether the clubs will be able to align themselves behind one proposal. Reports suggest Lazio president Claudio Lotito is backing the Fortress hybrid bid, while Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis, supported by teams like Udinese and Fiorentina, wants the league to enhance its business independently.
De Laurentiis is understood to think the league could grow media revenues from €2.5bn to €2.9bn by centralising television production and creating a Serie A channel so that it can sell its media rights directly to telecoms companies and OTT providers.
The Wanda Sports Group and its agency Infront along with Spanish agency and production group Mediapro are reported to have entered separate non-binding proposals to the clubs concerning the formation of a partnership to create this Serie A channel.