There are signs of steady progress as conversations continue around the prospective multi-million rand investment in WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
In July, news emerged that New York-based lawyer Marco Masotti – along with other potential co-investors – had expressed a keen interest in buying a controlling stake in WP Rugby’s business wing.
Masotti, who grew up in Amanzimtoti south of Durban, is a partner at the New York-based law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, and is recognised as one of the country’s leading lawyers in the private equity and hedge fund fields.
He is primarily leading an expression of interest to 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.
At the end of July, Masotti told SARugbymag.co.za that discussions were still at an early stage after requesting a 45-day exclusivity agreement to enter into talks with WP Rugby, while he explained why a key element of his offer revolved around acquiring a controlling majority share.
It’s no secret that WP would benefit from a lucrative investment at a time when the move from Newlands to the Cape Town Stadium is set to take place in 2021, while it still remains to be seen what return transpires from the partnership struck with developers Flyt Property Investment.
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 will come out of contract after the 2021 British & Irish Lions tour.
As previously mentioned by Masotti, he saw the calibre of players at the franchise as one of the major plus points of investing in WP Rugby: ‘Just look at the type of players they have as part of their franchise, the [Siya] Kolisis of the world, who is becoming an iconic figure in the world, and the likes of Pieter-Steph [du Toit],’ he told SARugbymag.co.za in July.
Although there could be sticking points when it comes to Masotti’s stipulation for a majority share – which allows for control of both rugby and commercial affairs – this website understands that progress is being made as negotiations remain ongoing.
It’s believed parties are edging closer to the outline of a deal, and while nothing is signed as yet, there is hope that terms and conditions of a business agreement could soon be tabled.
That would allow for due diligence to be conducted as all parties look to come to a workable solution that receives the necessary approvals before a more definitive agreement could be finalised.