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Stake sale in Bundesliga media rights business to launch early March

Germany’s soccer governing body is poised to kick off the sale of a stake in the Bundesliga’s media rights business that could fetch $2.9 billion, sources familiar with the matter said.

Deutsche Fussball Liga (DFL) plans to launch the formal sale process in early March, the sources told Reuters. One of the sources said DFL aims to find a buyer for “at least” 15% of the media rights business.

The holding company that controls the media rights is valued at between 15 and 18 billion euros, the sources said, meaning a 15% stake could be worth about 2.7 billion euros ($2.9 billion).

National soccer leagues in Europe are increasingly eyeing external funding around broadcasting arrangements as they look at ways to boost revenues and increase their global reach.

The Bundesliga is ranked as Europe’s second biggest soccer league by revenue after England’s Premier League.

DFL began informally sounding out bidders last year, but delays in gaining consensus among German clubs resulted in the resignation of its former chief executive Donata Hopfen.

Prospective investors are likely to begin with due diligence in early March, two of the sources said. Initial bids will be collected at the end of March with two or three preferred bidders selected at the start of April, the sources added.

Deals involving football clubs are boosting lacklustre M&A activity in Europe as the spike in interest rates has complicated financing for transactions.

In Britain, Manchester United’s owners have invited bidders to make offers for the club, while rival Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur recently received a $3.75 billion bid from Iranian-American billionaire Jahm Najafi.

Private equity firms including Blackstone (BX.N), CVC, KKR (KKR.N) and Advent are among bidders considering offers, with U.S. investor Sixth Street looking to make a bid with its sports and entertainment portfolio firm Legends, the sources said.

Bridgepoint and EQT had also previously reportedly shown interest in the business.

DFL, Advent, CVC, KKR, EQT, Blackstone and Sixth Street declined to comment. Bridgepoint was not immediately available for comment.

In mid-April, DFL clubs will review and give the green light for final talks before final bids are collected in May, two of the sources said.

A final decision is expected at the end of June, with a two-thirds majority sign off required from Bundelisga clubs, these sources added. Reuters

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