Germany’s top football clubs have voted against selling a stake in the media and commercial rights in the league to private equity firms, the second time they have refused to take financial investors’ money.
The head of the Bundesliga’s supervisory board said on Wednesday that a plan to sell a stake in media rights failed to win a two-thirds majority of the 36-member Deutsche Fospel Liga (DFL). The DFL runs the two largest leagues in Germany.
“The majority of clubs voted in favor of the project, but it was four votes short of the two-thirds majority wanted by the DFB executive committee, and to continue talks with investors,” said chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke.
The DFB’s interim managing director, Axel Heilmann, added that some members expressed surprise at the outcome of the vote.
The failure to secure DFL backing is a blow to a group of private equity firms including Blackstone, Advent International and CVC Capital Partners, which have been vying to buy a 12.5 percent stake in the media rights business, according to people familiar with the matter. with this issue.
If the two-thirds majority had been secured, negotiations would have been able to continue with the bidders.
The rush of private equity into football media rights has divided opinions among fans, leagues and clubs. Wednesday’s vote attracted a small group of protesters outside my hotel. They were opposed to the DFL taking private equity money.
France’s Ligue 1 and Spain’s La Liga have both sold stakes in their media rights to CVC Capital Partners. CVC’s €2 billion financing deal with La Liga has also received opposition from some clubs, including Barcelona and Real Madrid, but is still finalised.
Serie A has abandoned a €1.6 billion deal to buy a 10 percent stake in a new company that manages broadcasting rights in Serie A, after opposition from clubs.
The collapsed sell-off in Germany marks the second time the DFL has voted against private equity funds. In 2021, the league voted to back down from talks to sell a stake in a new media company that owns the rights to broadcast Bundesliga matches outside Germany.
The operation has attracted interest from a range of private equity firms, including CVC, KKR and others, the Financial Times previously reported.
The association again began talks to sell a stake to investment firms earlier this year and attracted interest from some of the biggest names in the buyout industry.
Any deal would have been a rare bright spot for companies that have seen a dip in deal activity this year so far. Concerns about the broader macro environment and lack of access to debt financing have affected dealmaking globally.
People familiar with the matter said the decision surprised some of the bidders involved, and the second refusal raises questions about whether the rights will ever be put up for sale again.