Italy’s Serie A clears way for private equity investment

Clubs in Italy’s Serie A agreed on Wednesday  to set up a new media company to handle the broadcast rights for top-flight Italian football.

They are deciding between two rival private equity bids seeking a stake in the business, club officials said.

Serie A hoped the new company would  improve governance and boost revenue, especially abroad, where in recent years Italian football had struggled to match the drawing power of rival European leagues.

It had invited bids for a minority stake.

On Wednesday, the clubs voted to review two separate bids led by CVC Capital Partners and Bain Capital (BCSF.N) for a 10 percent stake in Serie A’s media businesses.

The 10 per cent stake in the company, which would control the league’s broadcasting rights business for the next 10 years, is valued at up to 1.6 billion euros (1.9 billion dollars).

This was according to sources familiar with the matter.

“We have decided to create a media company having a private equity firm as a partner,” Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino told a news conference.

He added that there would be meetings soon to discuss issues, including the business plan.

Torino FC Chairman Urbano Cairo said the clubs would decide within two to three weeks which bid to accept.

With the coronavirus crisis slashing matchday revenues by forcing teams to play without supporters, television broadcast rights had become even more vital to Europe’s big league clubs.

They too had been threatened, however, as broadcasters around the world have responded to shrinking advertising revenues by cutting spending, leaving Italy facing the risk of falling further behind.

More than half of Serie A revenues came from broadcasting rights, but the league lags behind the financial heavyweights of England’s Premier League, La Liga in Spain and the German Bundesliga.

The Italian league raised 1.35 billion euros (1.6 billion dollars) from selling last season’s broadcasting rights, as against the 3.5 billion euros raised by the Premier League.

Leave a Reply