Everton Football Club Buyout, Consortium Acquires Sports Marketing Group, CVC Backs $500M Underwriter

Everton Football Club Buyout, Consortium Acquires Sports Marketing Group, CVC Backs $500M Underwriter

Private equity news the week of September 18, 2023.


Chart of the Week: Western Europe ranked second globally for buyout activity in Q2 2023 with 610 buyouts in the region. North America’s lead in buyout activity is widening over Western Europe as European dealmaking hasn’t recovered as quickly as other regions since the Q4 2022 lows in the most-recent economic cycle. (Read More)

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Deal News

Everton Football Club has been acquired by U.S. private equity firm, 777 Partners, for £550 million ($685m). The Miami-based investment firm is set to buy the 94.1% stake owned by British-Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri. This purchase expands 777 Partners' football club portfolio, which already includes teams like Genoa, Standard Liege, and has stakes in Sevilla and Melbourne Victory. Moshiri, who has invested significantly in player transfers since 2016, expressed confidence in 777 Partners, highlighting their multi-club investment strategy. The transaction is pending approval from the Premier League and FA. Everton, currently struggling in the Premier League standings, is in the midst of constructing a new stadium. (Source)

Private equity firms Fortress, Charlesbank, and Clearlake are set to take over Learfield, a major U.S. college sports marketing group, following a debt restructuring agreement. Learfield, which manages multimedia deals, merchandise sales, stadium sponsorships, ticketing, and content development for universities, will benefit from a debt reduction of over $600 million and receive a fresh equity investment of $150 million. The deal will also shift the ownership to these three private equity firms, the company's principal lenders. Endeavor and Silver Lake, which have been in control of Learfield since 2018, will be demoted to minority stakeholders. This restructuring reflects the increasing influence of private equity in the sports industry, amidst shifts in college sports, especially after student athletes were granted sponsorship rights in 2021. After facing financial strain exacerbated by the pandemic and a hefty debt from a $2bn merger in 2018, Learfield's renewed focus will be on content and media strategy, especially in the context of student athletes' name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights. (Source)

Dale Underwriting Partners (Dale), associated with Lloyd’s Syndicate 1729, has formed a strategic partnership with CVC, a prominent global private markets manager with assets totaling €161 billion. As per the arrangement, CVC funds will invest in Dale to replace its current third-party capital providers, facilitating business expansion. This move will lead to CVC funds obtaining a majority share in Dale. Established by Duncan Dale in 2014, Dale operates as a specialist in re/insurance for six main classes and manages over $500 million in premiums. The partnership aims to harness a significant, stable capital source to propel Dale's growth, leveraging both the global stance of the Lloyd’s market and Dale's industry expertise. The deal awaits standard regulatory nods and is anticipated to finalize between Q4 2023 and Q1 2024. Both parties received advisory support, with Dale's counsel being Macquarie Capital and Norton Rose Fulbright, while CVC was advised by several entities including Howden Tiger Capital Markets & Advisory and EY. (Source)

Katy Perry has sold her music rights to Carlyle-backed Litmus Music for an estimated $225 million. This agreement encompasses Perry's stakes in master recordings and publishing rights for her five albums released between 2008 and 2020. However, the masters for these albums remain the property of Universal Music Group. Litmus, established in summer 2022, previously acquired Keith Urban's master recording rights in December of the same year. The funding for this collaboration was sourced from Carlyle Global Credit's Credit Opportunities strategy, which has invested over $3 billion in sectors including sports, media, and entertainment since 2018. (Source)

Industry News

Nicole Musicco, CIO of the U.S.'s largest state public pension plan, Calpers, is set to resign by the end of September due to personal family concerns. Appointed in February 2022, Musicco was a key driver in steering Calpers towards private markets, advocating for an increase in private equity investments from 8% to 13% and introducing a 5% private debt allocation. Deputy CIO Dan Bienvenue will assume an interim role following her departure. (PitchBook)

John Pearce, Chief Investment Officer of Australia's UniSuper, a pension fund managing A$120 billion ($77 billion), anticipates the next 18 months to be prime for unlisted asset deals. The changing financial landscape, with improved returns from safer investments, now compels dealmakers to offer more favorable terms. UniSuper recently invested A$1 billion for a 5% stake in Vantage Towers, showcasing the shift in deal dynamics. Although many Australian pension funds are expanding overseas, UniSuper plans to remain domestic-centric but is open to collaborating with partners for international private debt deals. (Reuters)

Barclays has recruited Christian Oberle from JPMorgan Chase to manage its relationships with private equity firms in the Americas. Oberle, who will head the financial sponsors group in the region, will report to Jean-Francois Astier, the global leader of the group. This move aligns with Barclays' ambitions to expand its private equity connections. (Reuters)

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