Equity firm ‘plotting an ambitious reshaping of global rugby’

The Financial Times has reported that CVC is “plotting an ambitious reshaping of global rugby” that started with the 2018 acquisition of a 27% holding in England’s Premiership Rugby.

Equity firm ‘plotting an ambitious reshaping of global rugby’

CVC Capital Partners look set to complete the purchase of a €360m stake in the Six Nations as the private equity firm ramps up its bid to become rugby’s major commercial stakeholder.

The Financial Times has reported that CVC is “plotting an ambitious reshaping of global rugby” that started with the 2018 acquisition of a 27% holding in England’s Premiership Rugby.

A deal to acquire a €145m stake in the PRO14, of which the IRFU is a founding stakeholder, is also imminent, the FT reported, but that would be eclipsed by the finalisation of the deal to acquire around a 14% stake in the Six Nations, within weeks, according to the newspaper’s sources.

CVC’s objective, the report claims, is to do similar deals with global governing body World Rugby as well as southern hemisphere unions in New Zealand and South Africa. The Luxembourg-based investment group is understood to have a £16.4bn (€19.6bn) war chest and plans to “bundle TV rights for rugby competitions around the world into a single package for broadcasters”.

Other areas of interest include digital streaming deals with the likes of Amazon.

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper told the FT: “There’s an understanding that CVC are an investor in the sport and a supporter of important member unions of ours.

Therefore, it’s best that we work together with them where possible rather than be in a situation that we’re not in dialogue.

Although the report distances CVC from previous reports that it was behind moves to have South Africa leave the Rugby Championship to play in the Six Nations, it is believed the firm wants to reshape club competitions on both sides of the equator, including further South African representation in the PRO14 and ultimately a “Club World Cup”.

Other reports have raised the possibility of a British and Irish league involving the Irish provinces and their Premiership and Celtic rivals.

The Six Nations deal could also revive the prospect of an annual, global Nations Championship, first proposed by World Rugby last year when it agreed a £6bn deal with Swiss marketing agency In front.

Those plans were shelved after resistance from the Six Nations, keen to do their own deal with CVC, but Gosper’s willingness for dialogue is almost certain to have the plans at the centre of negotiations.

“Private equity is a reality,” Gosper said.

We are where we are. (World Rugby) has to deal with reality in the most constructive way.

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