Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee says the newly announced partnership with MVM Holdings will provide financial stability and exciting opportunities for the franchise. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
On Thursday, it was confirmed that MVM Holdings, an international investment consortium spearheaded by Marco Masotti, had officially entered into an agreement to purchase a 51% majority stake in the Sharks.
The current shareholders, the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union and SuperSport International, will hold the remaining 49% of the franchise – 26% and 23%, respectively.
In addition to Masotti, the members of the consortium include Vincent Mai (chairman and CEO of Cranemere LLC), 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) and Michael Yormark (president of Roc Nation Sports International).
It’s a list of names that will certainly garner attention as the Sharks have stated their ambitions to become ‘a global force in world rugby’, while Roc Nation will assist with the global expansion of the brand.
Speaking exclusively to SARugbymag.co.za after the announcement, Coetzee said he was thrilled that the partnership has come to fruition.
‘If you look at the makeup of the consortium, it’s really exciting and brings a lot of expertise. I’ve had a lot of dealings with them over the last six weeks to two months. We’ve got a lot of shared values and in terms of that, it’s made the partnership a lot easier.
‘There’s a huge amount of positives, and from a financial point of view it obviously brings stability. It brings us the opportunity to be competitive on the European stage, and obviously we want to be able to hold on to our players, so in the current environment it’s so important to have that backing.’
As SARugbymag.co.za reported back in December, MVM turned to the Sharks as a viable alternative after the purported $6-million deal with WP Rugby ultimately amounted to nothing.
The exact amount of the investment with the Sharks has not been disclosed, but it is believed to be in that ballpark.
While all South Africa’s franchises have to adhere to a salary cap when it comes to their player contracts, this investment is sure to strengthen the Sharks’ current resources and recruitment options.
‘Our young team has really performed well,’ Coetzee commented. ‘We do have quite a bit of space to move in terms of the salary cap and player budget, and with this support I’m sure we can really bolster the squad. We’ve got a lot of good players at the Sharks, and we’ve always said we’ll look after our own first.
‘But the reality is that there will be some positions where we may want to bolster and, as soon as we do some squad planning, we’ll identify where any weakness are and look to add where necessary. Hopefully we’ll have some good acquisitions.’
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, with his close ties to Roc Nation Sport and investor Vincent Mai, is someone who has been heavily linked with the Sharks, although it remains to be seen if anything more will come of this.