At A Standstill with NZ Rugby, Silver Lake Could Turn to Australia

    • Private equity firm Silver Lake has a deal in place with New Zealand Rugby.
    • Approval from its players is still pending.

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With legendary New Zealand rugby team All Blacks threatening to block a proposed deal with Silver Lake Capital, the private equity firm could strike a similar pact in neighboring Australia.

Rugby Australia, the sport’s governing body in the country, has the buy-in of its players union on a framework to bring in private equity, in which it would sell a 10-15% stake in its commercial assets through a holding company.

The proposal could be put before investors as soon as September, with Silver Lake a potential buyer, per Fox Sports Australia.

That creates an interesting wrinkle as New Zealand Rugby and Silver Lake work to coax its players association to agree to their proposed pact.

  • Under the deal with New Zealand Rugby, Silver Lake would buy a 12.5% stake in a company that would hold All Blacks’ commercial rights. 
  • The California-based private equity firm would invest around $264.4 million into growing the game’s local and global audience.
  • The deal values the All Blacks at $2.2 billion. It received unanimous approval from over 24 regional associations and the Māori Rugby Board.

Both leagues could use the cash.

New Zealand Rugby lost $12.8 million in 2020; Rugby Australia had a net deficit of $27.1 million in 2020 after weathering a $45.7 million drop in revenue from the previous year.