Apax Revives Interest in Italy’s Serie A Football League
(Bloomberg) -- Apax Partners has renewed its interest in investing in Serie A, the Italian soccer league that’s been frustrated in efforts to raise fresh funding this year, according to people familiar with the matter.
The private equity firm is working with other potential investors to formulate a proposal that it could present to the league at the start of next year, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information.
An investment by Apax could differ in structure from the deal Serie A has been pursuing with Advent, CVC and FSI and include a larger debt element, according to one of the people. It would have to win over Serie A’s club presidents, some of whom have become wary about inviting private equity firms in as investors, another person said.
Apax’s interest in Serie A stretches back more than a year. It had previously considered teaming up with Three Hills Capital Partners on a bid to provide fresh capital to the league, before Advent and CVC seemingly took pole position. It is not known if Three Hills is involved in Apax’s current deliberations.
Apax partner Gabriele Cipparrone is leading its technology team’s discussions on Serie A, according to the people. He previously worked on Apax’s investment in sports data and technology firm Genius Sports.
No final decisions have been made, and Apax could decide against making an offer, the people said. Representatives for Apax and Serie A declined to comment.
Serie A is home to many global stars of soccer, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Federico Chiesa, but its finances have suffered decades of neglect. Revenue, which has more recently been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and loss of a key broadcast contract in the Middle East, totaled 2 billion euros for the 2019/2020 season. The English Premier League generated twice as much, according to Deloitte.
Usage of Serie A stadiums was the lowest of the top five European leagues in the last full season before the Covid-19 pandemic, Deloitte figures for that period show. The stadiums -- with the exception of a few modernized ones such as Juventus Football Club SpA and Udinese -- remain unappealing to many fans. Most are owned by local councils, and have had trouble finding funds and overcoming bureaucracy to remodel.
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