Following private equity firm CVC’s 14% acquisition of Six Nations Rugby, it is reported they are in talks to acquire a share of SA Rugby.
The Times reports that CVC is close to concluding a deal with SA Rugby to buy a 15-20% stake of the union’s commercial business. It is said that all other potential investors have been sidelined and that SA Rugby is now negotiating solely with CVC.
The move follows the growing trend of private equity acquisitions within rugby. CVC for their part own shares of the Gallagher Premiership, Guinness Pro14 and Six Nations Rugby whilst there has been speculation that US private equity firm Silver Lake is set to buy a share of New Zealand Rugby.
Within South Africa, private equity firm MVM made the high profile acquisition of a controlling stake in the Sharks earlier this year.
CVC have previously only dealt in European properties but a share of SA Rugby would grant them influence in the Southern Hemisphere as well as a financial interest in the Rugby Championship competition. It would also mean CVC would have a stake in seven of the ten ‘Tier 1’ countries.
Though many fans regard private equity investment with an air of suspicion, the long-term benefits can be substantial. The English RFU, for example, is set to make R2bn over the next five years from the capital that CVC are injecting.
CEO of the RFU, Bill Sweeney was optimistic about what the financial injection could facilitate. Citing an ability to invest in revenue-generating activity to continue to support the game for many years as well as stadium development, growing the women’s game and plugging the gaps left by Covid.
The Times also reports that in the coming days there will be confirmation of the South African teams’ entrance into the Pro14/16 competition. It is likely that the name of the competition will be changed.