Serie A gets third VC hunting $bn stake as overseas broadcast deal comes under threat

June 24 – A third private equity firm has expressed an interest in bidding for a stake in Serie A, ironically at a time when the league looks on the verge of losing its  biggest international rights buyers.

Advent International has, according to Bloomberg, thrown its venture capital hat into the Serie A ring, with an offer potentially valuing Serie A at $13 billion.

CVC Capital Partners is nearing the end of an exclusive period of negotiation with Serie A over a potential €2.2 billion (US$2.4 billion) deal to buy 20% of the league. Last week US firm Bain Capital reportedly tabled a €3 billion (US$3.4 billion) preliminary offer for a 25% stake.

Separately Blackstone had reportedly made the offer of a €100 million short-term loan to Serie A, presumably guaranteed against media rights.

It is the timing of the Advent entry that raises eyebrows with Serie A having returned to play last weekend but with its largest international rights buyer, covering more than 35 national territories, refusing to broadcast matches.

Qatari-based beIN Sports pays Serie A about $500 million for rights but its relationship with Serie A become particularly fraught as the Italian league’s ties to Saudi Arabia have grown. BeIN have been battling the Saudis and their support of pirate channel beoutQ’s theft of live rights and programming bought, paid and produced by beIN. Those rights included Serie A matches

Last year Serie A and the Italian federation cosied up to the Saudis who controversially staged the Italian Super Cup, despite beIN’s warning that the Italians were effectively rewarding a country that is stealing its income. They warned there would be a knock-on effect for Serie A and their rights deal. That effectively happened with the broadcast blackout last weekend.

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