• Big week for WP investment talks

    A decisive face-to-face meeting could take place when prospective WP Rugby investor Marco Masotti travels to Cape Town in the coming week, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

    SARugbymag.co.za has reliably learned that New York-based Masotti is set to be in Cape Town from 12-17 November, and plans to meet with the likes of WP Rugby president Zelt Marais.

    In recent weeks, it appears that talks have gone rather quiet after news first emerged in July that Masotti – along with other potential co-investors – had expressed a keen interest in buying a controlling stake in WP Rugby’s business wing.

    He is primarily leading an expression of interest to reportedly invest about $6 million (almost R100m) in WP Rugby – $4m in the business wing (which contracts the Stormers players, for example) and $2m in the union’s amateur arm.

    In mid-October, WP chairman Ebrahim Rasool provided an update on the progress of the deal with MVM Holdings.

    ‘We know that there is a possibility that Mr Masotti will be in South Africa in November. We would like to meet with him, but we want that to be a decisive meeting which says yay or nay.

    ‘Secondly, in order to prepare for that meeting, I will write to Mr Masotti and ask him to give us three things in documentation form. The one would be to put the financial proposal on the table in clear terms so that we can separate the chaff from the wheat.

    ‘We are saying give us the strategy you have spoken about that adds value to the franchise. Thirdly, tell us who the consortium is, so that we can commence with the due diligence. If we do this all within the next few days or weeks, we will be able to come to a definitive decision.

    ‘What has ended with Masotti, is the [45-day] exclusivity period. But the conversation is still going on and needs to move to the next level. We will request those documents in writing so that we can have the conversation in a decisive way when Mr Masotti is in Cape Town, or even electronically if needs be.’

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    This website understands that Masotti has recently provided Marais and Rasool with some additional information, but in turn has also asked for some additional financial due diligence, to which there was no response by the end of last week.

    As a well-respected lawyer in New York, Masotti also undoubtedly has other considerable priorities when it comes to his day job, and there is increasingly a sense that WP Rugby needs to push the conversation forward if it hopes the deal comes to fruition.

    Now it remains to be seen if the in-person meeting between all parties is able to take place within the next week, and if decisive steps will be taken in one direction or another.

    The possibility of a deal with Masotti would be expected to provide a much-needed financial boost, particularly when it comes to securing the future of top players at the Stormers, many of whom are said to be looking for future job security at this time.

    For example, World Cup-winning prop Steven Kitshoff is one of the players who is reportedly being targeted by a French club as a sought-after recruit.

    Like many of his teammates, Kitshoff is understood to be keen to remain with WP and the Stormers beyond next year’s British & Irish Lions tour, but also understandably would want to know what the union’s prospects and squad composition will look like.

    ALSO READ: WP want decisive talks over MVM investment

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    Craig Lewis