Private Equity Firms Lining Up for Piece of Bundesliga Media Rights

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Germany’s top soccer league is offering a minority stake in its new digital media company — valued at over $1 billion — for a minimum of $240 million, and private equity firms are lining up.

The Bundesliga faced revenue losses of upwards of $900 million due to the pandemic as it was forced to cancel matches and eventually play without fans. Several financial firms approached Deutsche Fussball Liga, the body that runs Germany’s top two divisions, to provide emergency funding, prompting it to create the new investment opportunity.

The company will sell Bundesliga’s international rights contracts, data services and other commercial propositions, alongside rolling out an international online subscription service.

Apollo, Bain Capital, Blackstone Group, Carlyle, Goldman Sachs Principal Investment, and a joint effort between Endeavor and Silver Lake are just some of the more than 20 groups that have expressed initial interest.

With European soccer leagues and clubs on tough financial footing, private equity firms have looked to buy into the global sport at lower prices:

  • In November, Advent and CVC bought 10% of a new media company that will handle media rights for Italy’s Serie A for roughly $2 billion.
  • Several firms have approached the English Football League, which operates the lower levels in England, about potential investment.
  • Clubs in Italy’s second-tier league, Serie B, have also unanimously voted in favor of forming a new media company to manage their marketing and broadcasting rights. 
  • The president of French professional soccer’s governing body, Vincent Labrune, suggested that France’s Ligue 1 is considering creating a subsidiary to manage its commercial rights.