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Italy’s Serie A to discuss financing options for media business


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  • Serie A clubs to review possible media business investment
  • Review follows approaches from banks, private equity funds
  • Some top club owners have expressed scepticism

MILAN, March 9 (Reuters) – Italy’s Serie A will on Monday ask its 20 clubs whether they want to kick-off a process to study proposals by private equity firms and banks interested in investing in the top flight soccer league’s media business, a document seen by Reuters showed.

The document lists banks and funds that have approached Serie A in recent months and said that, after meetings with all of the potential partners, three different types of financing offers had been put forward.

The first option is that of a “league wide” credit facility, it showed, although investors would also be willing to invest equity capital in a company holding Serie A’s media rights.

A third option would combine equity and debt. The equity contribution would be lower because it would focus on a company holding only Serie A’s international media rights.

Spain’s LaLiga and France’s Ligue 1 have clinched deals to sell part of their media business to private equity investors to get fresh resources to fund investments.

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However, the owners of Italian league leaders Napoli and current champions AC Milan have both expressed scepticism about plans to bring in external investment into the media business.

Citi (C.N), Goldman Sachs (GS.N), JPMorgan (JPM.N) and Barclays (BARC.L) are the lenders listed in the document, which also mentions private equity firms Apollo, Apax, Carlyle, Three Hills Capital Partners and Searchlight.

Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), which has been indicated among banks interested in investing in Serie A, left the race as it is involved in a similar process involving Germany’s Bundesliga, a source briefed on the matter said.

Reuters has previously reported the names of all of the banks and funds interest in Serie A in recent weeks, except for Britain’s Barclays, which declined to comment on Thursday.

Later this year Serie A is expected to invite applications for rights screen its matches in Italy for up to five seasons starting from 2024/2025.

Club and league officials have warned that Serie A risks receiving a lukewarm response from broadcasters grappling with challenging economic conditions and sluggish growth.

Prepared ahead of a meeting of the 20 Serie A clubs scheduled for March 13, the document said clubs will be asked whether they are interested in exploring a deal and on what basis.

If the clubs decide to go ahead, the league would hire an adviser to organise a so-called beauty contest, soliciting all leading financial institutions to submit their best proposal, the document said.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Keith Weir and Alexander Smith

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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