May 17 – US investment fund PEAK6, a minority owner of Serie A’s Roma that also holds a 25% stake in Premier League Bournemouth, is taking aim at another of Europe’s Big 5 leagues having entered into exclusive takeover talks with French Ligue 1 club Saint-Etienne.
PEAK6 Sports is a venture capital firm that, in its company information, says it “seeks to invest in sports and technology businesses. By bridging the gap between sports and technology, we help leaders in both segments build transformative companies.”
Saint-Etienne will be hoping for a transformative owner. The 10-time French champion will finish the current Ligue1 season this weekend in eighth place and more than 20 points off European competition qualifying places.
There has been no valuation figure given for the club but Football Benchmark data from the calculated from the last available accounts for the 2015/16 season show the club operating revenues at €60.8 million and a profit after tax of €500,0000.
Crucial to any club valuation is the staff and player costs which are €42.1 million giving a staff cost/revenue ratio of 69%. Perhaps slightly high for a venture capital investor who would like to see that ratio closer to 50% and this could affect the price for the club which is likely to be around the €60 million mark, probably with a commitment to send upwards of €20 million on improving the squad to challenge for the Champions League places that would take Saint-Etienne into the bigger money – the financial carrot for any investor.
Saint-Etienne confirmed the exclusive negotiations were on-going and added that Peak6 would consider “appointing Jérôme de Bontin as president of the club”. De Bontin is a former director of Monaco and most recently general manager of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls.
In a club statement Saint-Etienne’s co-owners, Bernard Caïazzo and Roland Romeyer who have been in charge since 2004, referred to PEAK6 saying: “We believe in their deep knowledge of sports, business expertise, and international influence, combined with their passion for football. This new phase will ensure the club is positioned for excellence while keeping its core values. The presence of a French club with American shareholders in the UEFA Europa League final demonstrates the relevance of US shareholders in European football.”
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