Eastern Cape link with Sharks set to strengthen

The newly concluded deal between the Sharks and MVM Holdings is also set to translate into a strengthening of the ties between the Durban franchise and Eastern Cape rugby. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

On Thursday, it was confirmed that MVM Holdings, an international investment consortium spearheaded by New York attorney Marco Masotti, had officially entered into an agreement to purchase a 51% majority stake in the Sharks.

READ: American consortium acquires controlling share in Sharks

In addition to Masotti, the members of the consortium include Vincent Mai, who is formerly of the Eastern Cape and now an investment tycoon in the USA.

Mai also has a strong relationship with Siya Kolisi, who was in fact the first recipient of the Vincent Mai Bursary Scheme, which allowed the Springbok captain to attend prestigious Grey High School in Port Elizabeth.

Among Masotti’s partners is world-famous entrepreneur Michael Yormark of Roc Nation, the company founded by rapper Jay-Z and a marketing leader in the USA.

Kolisi is also a Roc Nation representative, as is Springbok superstar Cheslin Kolbe.

It’s believed that while MVM Holdings will be primarily invested at the Sharks and ‘intend to shine a global light on the city of Durban’, according to Masotti, the consortium also regards growing rugby in the Eastern Cape as a priority.

In an interview with SARugbymag.co.za, Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee shed some light on this aspect of the partnership.

‘In terms of our shared values, they really want to make a difference at grassroots level, and one of the deals they’ve agreed to with the KZNRU is to underwrite a substantial amount of money every year for club, schools and development rugby to continue thriving in the province and in this environment that’s priceless.

‘A lot of our Sharks players have ties to the Eastern Cape, and one of the consortium members is also from the Eastern Cape. When you think back to when the Sharks played in Super Rugby as the Coastal Sharks, we had Border and EP as part of us, and that relationship is still strong.

‘From a Sharks point of view we can really try to rekindle those relationships so that we can make rugby on the east coast of South Africa really strong.’

ALSO READ: Sharks CEO on MVM deal: It’s hugely positive

According to Masotti there are also long-term plans to help establish academies in the Eastern Cape that could effectively serve as a feeder system to the Sharks.

Besides the influence of Masotti, Yormark and Mai, the American consortium is also made up Marc Lasry (founder of Avenue Capital and owner of the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks team), Doug Cifu (CEO of Virtu Financial, Inc and owner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers team), Robert D Haswell (founding partner of Dominus Capital), Dominic Silvester (CEO of Enstar Group Limited).

Coetzee explained how the input and interactions would work between all parties.

‘The main contact point from an operational point of view will be between myself and Marco. We’ve really grown to have a strong communication strategy already in a short space of time. That will be good, his family is still in KZN, so I’m sure he will make regular trips when it’s possible to do so.

‘He’s also given myself and the executive team his vote of confidence, and he’s happy with the management structures at the Sharks, which is also very important. All parties want the Sharks to be successful.’

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Craig Lewis