Tuesday October 3, 2023

$130M Sale of New Zealand Rugby Stake Faces Vote

  • Private equity firm Silver Lake agreed to acquire a 5.7% stake in NZR CommercialCo.
  • The stake is worth roughly $130.6 million.
Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports
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The sale of a minority stake in New Zealand Rugby’s commercial rights to California-based private equity firm Silver Lake for $130.6 million is up against a critical vote to gain approval. 

Silver Lake agreed to acquire a 5.7% stake in NZR CommercialCo, a division of New Zealand Rugby that houses all revenue-generating assets of the governing body. The pending sale — agreed to in February 2022 — was approved by New Zealand Rugby’s players union after some reluctance. 

  • Members of New Zealand Rugby will vote on Thursday at a special general meeting.
  • Approval of the sale could value NZR CommercialCo at more than $2 billion.

The process for Silver Lake to invest in New Zealand Rugby — the owner of the All Blacks team — has been arduous. A report from April 2021 revealed that Silver Lake offered $279 million for a 12.5% stake in the commercial entity, but the players union opposed the deal.

Players for the All Blacks — named for their iconic team shirt — say investment could also taint their rugby traditions. The All Blacks have won more than 75% of their test matches and three of nine Rugby World Cups.

Rugby Investment in the U.S.

World Rugby, which has 10 million registered players, is exploring investment opportunities with private equity firms including CVC Capital Partners, per the Financial Times.

The World Rugby Council recently voted to give the U.S. bids for the Men’s Rugby World Cup in 2031 and the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2033. The total cost of hosting both events could reach $500 million, according to USA Rugby.

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