Silver Lake Snaps Up $100 Million Stake in Australian Soccer
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. private equity firm Silver Lake has paid about $100 million for a stake in the organization that runs Australian professional soccer.
The Californian firm, which manages more than $90 billion in assets, will acquire a third of the economic and voting interests in the Australian Professional Leagues, valuing the business at about $300 million, according to a statement on Tuesday. The cash injection will help underpin the future growth and development of the men’s and women’s competitions.
“This significant investment into the game further reinforced the benefits of the unbundling of the professional leagues as the game continues to drive towards an exciting new era for Australian football,” James Johnson, chief executive officer of Football Australia, the regulatory body that had to approve the transaction, said in the statement.
The deal has also received the approval of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.
Buyout firms including Silver Lake are becoming major investors in the sports business. The opportunity for buyers is often based on the value of media rights and the content associated with televised matches, coupled with the fact that there’s only a finite amount of assets in the space.
Sports teams have had an added incentive to raise minority equity more recently to offset the revenue hit many took during the peak of the pandemic, leading to a flurry of European football deals by U.S firms muscling out the old trend of wealthy individuals chasing trophy stakes.
Pre-pandemic, the sport in Australia grew from about 1.3 million total players -- including adults and children -- to 1.9 million nationwide between 2013 and 2019, according to a National Participation Report by Football Australia.
Silver Lake is currently seeking to buy a stake in the commercial operations of New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team, and also owns a stake in U.K. soccer club Manchester City.
As part of the APL transaction, Silver Lake will appoint Managing Director Stephen Evans to the organization’s board.
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