Lega Serie A set to weigh up rights proposals

Six investment funds are said to have made binding offers to Lega Serie A, governing body of the top division of Italian club football, regarding a media company that would market broadcast rights.

Wanda Sports Group and its agency Infront, along with Spanish agency and production group Mediapro are reported to have entered separate joint proposals.

The proposals to the Lega advisor, French financial consultancy Lazard, will be discussed at a Lega club assembly meeting on Thursday, according to multiple reports in the Italian media.

CVC Capital Partners, Bain Capital and Advent International are said to have made offers for minority stakes in the new media company, according to the Il Messaggero newspaper.

Apollo Global Management, Fortress Investment Group, and Blackstone, through its GSO investment arm, are instead said to have put forward financing proposals.

Meanwhile, Wanda-Infront and Mediapro are reported to have made a direct non-binding proposal to the clubs concerning the formation of a partnership to create a Serie A channel.

Infront has strong existing ties to the Lega. The agency holds a six-year near-€6bn ($7bn) minimum-guarantee agreement to work as its exclusive adviser on domestic and international media-rights sales. But that deal comes to an end in 2020-2021. Infront has worked as the league’s media-rights adviser since 2008.

Earlier this month, Lega Serie A was said to have placed a cap of 15 per cent on any potential private equity investment into a new commercial entity. A letter from Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino to the interested parties is said to have added that the proposals must contain a legal assessment confirming that the terms and conditions of the bid comply with Italy’s Melandri law, which governs the collective selling of media rights in the country.

Reports concerning external investment in Serie A have been rife in recent weeks. Lega Serie A this month decided to continue to examine proposals from private equity investors following a general assembly meeting.

CVC was previously said to have enjoyed an exclusive negotiation window. CVC’s reported €2.2bn bid was to acquire 20 per cent of a new company that would manage the media rights, Serie A’s international trademark and commercial development, and part-finance a new investment fund responsible for stadium development.