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Private equity circles European soccer TV rights

Illustration of a soccer ball made out of a patchwork of different bill denominations.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Some of the top European soccer leagues are attracting tons of interest from private equity firms who want in on their media rights business.

Why it matters: The explosion of media rights fees has led to a gold rush among investors who want to ride a wave that's still growing.

State of play: Investors have been circling Italy's Serie A and Germany's Bundesliga, which are the top leagues in both countries.

  • Apax Partners, Three Hills Capital Partners and Carlyle Group could make a formal joint proposal this week for a stake in Serie A's media rights business, Reuters reported. Searchlight Capital has also expressed interest.
  • Meanwhile, in Germany, Bundesliga owner Deutsch Fußball Liga (DFL) is holding a sale this month for a $3.6 billion stake in its media rights business, Reuters also reported.
  • Last month, DFL met with private equity firms including CVC. Other firms that have expressed interest according to Reuters are EQT, Bain Capital, KKR, Silver Lake and Blackstone.

The big picture: European soccer has increasingly courted private equity funds as it looks to grow revenue and boost its global footprint.

  • CVC Capital Partners bought stakes in La Liga (Spain) for $2 billion and Ligue 1 (France) for $1.6 billion. The firm had a $1.7 billion deal with Serie A last year that fell through after opposition from some of its clubs, including Juventus.
  • The early days of the pandemic hammered European soccer's bottom line and put many clubs in financial distress.
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