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DAZN sells Goal and other football sites to TPG’s Integrated Media

DAZN Group, the global sports subscription service and media company, has finalised an agreement to sell a majority stake in its digital football-focused platforms, including Goal.com, to Integrated Media Company, a venture backed by US-based private equity firm TPG Capital.

The “definitive agreement” agreed by the two parties also includes Spox and VoetbalZone, the German and Dutch platforms respectively.

The transaction values the three brands at over $100m (€85.2m), SportBusiness understands.

DAZN Group will retain a significant minority share and will have a seat on the board of the new venture. IMC was set up with TPG backing as a special-purpose digital media investment company in 2018.

IMC and DAZN said that the deal has been agreed with a view to expanding and accelerating the global soccer platform, with Goal to “enrich its coverage of the world’s top sport and additionally create digital opportunities enhancing the fan experience, advertiser proposition, and overall popularity of the game particularly in growth markets”.

Goal.com, Spox and VoetbalZone have been part of DAZN Group’s football portals business, FootballCo, offering news, scores, video and other editorial content in 19 languages.

Perform Group acquired Goal.com in 2011 for £18m (€19.6m/$23.1m). In September 2018, Perform Group divided its assets to create two separate divisions, with Goal.com, Spox and VoetbalZone housed under DAZN Group, which also operates the flagship OTT business.

It emerged in early June that DAZN was in final negotiations to sell Goal.com and other assets to TPG, as The New York Times reported that talks had started towards the end of 2019.

DAZN Group and its owner Access Industries, the multinational industrial group, have put in place a series of strategic and personnel changes in recent months in response to the sizeable impact to the business caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. These have included an executive reshuffle, developing more non-live content and scaling back operations in the US and Brazil amid a heightened focus on DAZN’s new global streaming service focused chiefly on boxing.

James Rushton, who became DAZN Group’s acting chief executive over the summer following the exit of Simon Denyer, said today (Tuesday): “We are thrilled to partner with IMC as we enter our next chapter of growth. As we saw with Goal’s Lionel Messi exclusive, our football portals business features the top digital football destinations in the world. The investment from IMC will enable it to reach new heights, whilst allowing DAZN to focus its energy and resources on further strengthening our sports destination platform.”

Barcelona star Messi revealed he was staying at the Catalan club in an exclusive interview given to Goal at the start of the month.

Commenting on the deal, IMC managing director Ori Winitzer remarked: “There are four billion soccer fans on earth. Their passion transcends borders and limits though the media serving them does not. Goal has long been an innately global platform for the soccer fan, with a strong journalistic tradition and a brand that’s synonymous with the sport.

“We see a significant opportunity to expand the platform’s reach and engagement through new content verticals, products, and experiences. We’re excited to partner with DAZN to serve all constituents in the soccer world.”

In 2011, Perform acquired Spox and Mediasports, the German digital sports advertising agency, for an initial cash payment of €3.65m ($4.28m). The figure was to rise to €12.35m depending on the two businesses’ full-year reported Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) results in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Along with football, Spox’s output is also focused on tennis and US sports leagues. Spox agreed a digital content partnership with basketball’s NBA in 2012, before penning a multi-year extension in 2016.

VoetbalZone was sold to Perform in 2013 for an initial cash sum of €2m, with an additional figure of up to €10.5m to be paid based on the platform’s Ebitda results over the following three years.

It was recently reported that DAZN is looking into ways of securing new investment of as much as $1bn. It is not the first time that the media company has sought investment. Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, DAZN hired financial services company Goldman Sachs with a view to raising as much as $500m.