Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan is set to put forward a proposal to sell a share of the governing body’s commercial rights to private equity.
McLennan has admitted RA ideally would not have contemplated a private-equity deal, but after recording a AU$27.1-million loss in the last financial year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the union has little choice.
McLennan, along with RA chief executive Andy Marinos, will on Thursday and Friday address all the chairmen and chief executives of the five state member unions to pitch the proposed sale of a 10 to 15% stake of its commercial rights.
‘We have absolute alignment,’ he said. ‘I can’t see us giving more than 15% away. It will be between 10 to 15%. Probably 12.5%.
‘In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to do it. There’s an extra stakeholder we’ll have to deal with. But I don’t fear it. The more diverse range of skill sets we get around the table is a good thing. Rugby deserves to make a lot of money which we can reinvest back into the community game.’
McLennan believes the investment as the potential to be ‘the best of all time’.
‘We will debate the pros and cons of the private-equity process and have a high-level discussion around percentages and potential returns and get their much valued input on what is right for the game.
‘Most in the know understand that we need external investment. It’s important to note that the decks are pretty well cleared – notwithstanding another Covid shock. We think it’s all upside from here. This could be the best investment of all time, as the game rocks on.’
Last week, New Zealand Rugby approved a historic private-equity deal at their annual general meeting, with a 12.5% stake to be sold to US equity firm Silver Lake for NZ$387.5m (AU$361m).