- DFL considering selling up to 20% of subsidiary valued at €18bn
- Advent, Blackstone, CVC, EQT and KKR among those considering investing
- German clubs broke off private equity talks in May 2021
The German Football League (DFL) has brought in Deutsche Bank to lead the possible sale of a broadcast rights package to external investors.
The bank will work alongside the DFL’s longstanding advisor Nomura Holdings as the organiser behind German soccer’s top two divisions, the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, weighs up various investment options.
One of the routes purportedly under discussion is the sale of a stake in a new subsidiary housing the two leagues’ domestic and international broadcast rights. DFL is considering selling as much as 20 per cent of the unit, which could be valued at about €18 billion (US$18 billion) and therefore bring in as much as €3.6 billion (US$3.6 billion).
Around ten private equity firms are expected to put themselves forward to the DFL as early as September, ahead of possible preliminary offers later in the year. Advent International, Blackstone, CVC Capital Partners, EQT and KKR are among those linked with a deal.
Alternative funding options, including loans and other strategic investment ideas, are also being considered.
“The internal preparations are complete and we’re now starting with the formal process, but there is no pre-determination of what a partnership looks like,” the DFL’s chief executive Donata Hopfen said at the organisation’s general assembly earlier this month.
The DFL looks ready to try its luck again with private equity. The organisation seemed set to allow firms to take a stake in its international broadcast rights business last year, with Bridgepoint and CVC reportedly on a shortlist for a 25 per cent share that would’ve handed clubs a €500 million (US$496 million) cash injection. Instead, teams broke off talks in May 2021 and gave no indication if a deal would be revived.
The pressing need for the Bundesliga to keep pace and remain competitive with other elite European soccer leagues, coupled with the appointment of Hopfen, who joined the DFL at the start of this year, has seen the investment plans resurface.
Should a deal be done, the Bundesliga would be the third of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues to go down the private equity route. In March, clubs in France’s Ligue 1 approved a €1.5 billion (US$1.5 billion) investment from CVC, arriving after the firm’s €2 billion (US$2 billion) agreement with Spain’s LaLiga was confirmed at the end of 2021.