Advent buys €560m sports agency

Advent International partners with German media group RTL to take control of Sportfive, the French-listed sports agency specialising in marketing European football rights.

Advent International, the Boston-headquartered private equity firm with offices across Europe and Asia, has agreed to acquire 75 percent of the equity of Sportfive, a European sports rights agency valued at €560 million ($692 million).

Following completion of the transaction, Sportfive will be delisted from the French stock exchange.

The business is currently controlled by European broadcasting companies RTL Group and Groupe Canal+. The two groups share a 92.8 percent interest in the agency. While Groupe Canal+ is wholly exiting Sportfive, RTL will retain a 25 percent stake in the company.  

According to a press release issued by Advent, discussions are currently being held with Jean-Claude Darmon, Sportfive’s chairman and chief executive, “regarding his possible interest in the new company.”

The sale is subject to approval of antitrust authorities. Bank debt to fund the transaction is currently being arranged.

Sportfive generates 93 percent of its sales from marketing European football rights, a market which Advent says is worth in excess of €10 billion overall. The group also handles rugby, boxing, basketball and handball rights.

Pascal Stefani and Georg Stratenwerth led the investment for Advent. The firm was advised by Deloitte Corporate Finance and Societe Generale (corporate finance), Ashurst (legal) and Marsh (insurance).  

The deal represents the fifth Western European investment for the firm in four months. In December, it invested in Radio 538, a commercial radio station in Holland. It also completed the public-to-private of Parques Reunidos, a Spanish amusement park operator, and invested in Moeller Group, a privately owned industrial and buildings electronic component manufacturer in Germany. 

Earlier this month, Advent announced the acquisition of Dufry Group, a global duty-free retailer.