Premiership Rugby ‘highly likely’ to sell minority share as chief executive Mark McCafferty targets investment

CVC Capital Partners saw a majority offer rejected last month but a board meeting on Tuesday saw a number of new offers reviewed

Nick Purewal
Wednesday 17 October 2018 08:36
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Premiership Rugby are 'highly likely' to sell a minority stake to raise investment for the 13 stakeholders
Premiership Rugby are 'highly likely' to sell a minority stake to raise investment for the 13 stakeholders

Premiership Rugby is likely to sell a minority shareholding amid interest from several “serious global players”, according to chief executive Mark McCafferty.

The Premiership clubs reviewed a clutch of offers from interested parties in Tuesday’s monthly board meeting, as England’s top-flight outfits continue to eye outside investment.

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners tabled a bid for a majority stake in Premiership Rugby last month, but England’s top clubs still prefer to bring on board a new minor shareholder.

Asked if it was now inevitable a minor shareholding would be sold, McCafferty replied: “I think it’s certainly highly likely. The shareholders want to do that, they want to continue the kind of growth we’ve had over the last five years and they see the opportunities for continuing to do that.

“Finding the right partner to do that with is never straightforward.

“So one of the things the board is interested in, is if we’re going to have a long-term partner; it’s got to work for them, but it’s got to work for our shareholders as well.

“So I think (a minority deal is) highly likely, but we’ve got to get into the nuts and bolts over the next few weeks.

“So we’ve got quite a bit of work ahead of us over the next several weeks in terms of getting into the nuts and bolts of the offers from those serious global players to get down to a final position hopefully.”

Premiership Rugby chairman Ian Ritchie believes completing a deal to bring on board a new minority shareholder would represent a significant progression for England’s club competition.

“We continue to have an agreed, consistent and unanimous board position, and what we’ll do in the next few weeks is to continue to explore with those interested parties, how we can proceed, and whether or not we can reach an agreement,” said Ritchie.

“I think we all feel that the potential partnership opportunities here, with those interested parties, is a big step forward for the Premiership, if we can reach an agreement.

“There is certainly a good degree of competition to be involved with us. That’s a good reflection on where rugby is, and it’s a good reflection on where Premiership Rugby is.

“So I don’t think anyone’s going to have an easy time getting through final agreement because there’s a lot of interest.”

IMcCafferty (left) and Ritchie (right) are open to investment in the Premiership

Premiership Rugby could still look to levy a loan deal to realise the same kind of capital boost – or yet finalise deals for both new shareholder investment and borrowing.

While outside investment would help boost the clubs’ resources, Premiership bosses also want any potential partner to add far wider value.

“The digital world is expanding very rapidly, where content is appearing, who creates that content,” said McCafferty.

“Like many sports we’re typically focused on the match day as being the content, and it certainly is and it’s certainly in the forefront of that.

“But there’s all sorts of other content that’s produced these days. So it’s about upping our game on that.

“So when you look for to a potential partner, the obvious question is who is best-placed to help us with that. And that’s the kind of criteria that we would be evaluating.

“We’re a very big domestic player, sporting-wise I like to think, but we’re still a relatively small on the international front.

“So developing the global appeal and following for the Premiership is one of the things on our agenda, and certainly digital capabilities in promoting it is one of the ways we can get to that greater exposure.”

PA

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