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DFL Unveils New Strategy for Bundesliga: Prepares to Attract Private Equity Investment

The German Football League (DFL) is gearing up for a renewed effort to attract private equity investment for a stake in the Bundesliga's media rights business, with speculations swirling around a potential deal valued at up to €1 billion (US$1.08 billion).

In an official statement, the DFL revealed its intention to conduct a vote among all 36 clubs in the country's top two divisions in December. The vote will seek consensus on whether to proceed with an auction to invite investments in the Bundesliga's media rights unit. If approved, a deal could be finalised by April next year, preceding the league's rights sale process for the 2025-2029 cycle.

This move marks the Bundesliga's latest endeavour to secure private equity investment. A prior proposal to sell a reported 12.5% stake in its media rights subsidiary was rebuffed by teams in May, despite enticing bids from firms like CVC Capital Partners, Advent International, and Blackstone, rumoured to be valued at up to €1.85 billion (US$2 billion), according to Bloomberg.

German outlet Sportchau reported that the DFL is contemplating selling a stake ranging from six to nine percent in the media rights business for a 20-year period, anticipating a substantial payment between €800 million (US$868.2 million) and €1 billion (US$1.08 billion) from potential investors.

Bloomberg added that a reverse auction is likely to be employed, wherein interested private equity firms would indicate the size of the stake they are willing to acquire for up to €1 billion (US$1.08 billion) in the entity.

Under the proposed plan, 60% of the raised funds would be allocated to collaborative digitalisation projects, including the establishment of a digital video platform, as reported by Sportchau. Additionally, 30% of the revenue would be reserved to offset payments to the investor for at least five years, while the remaining ten percent would be dedicated to promoting the league internationally, such as organising club-friendly matches to generate revenue from overseas sources.

Notably, a previous provision outlining special payments directly to clubs has reportedly been shelved, as it was a contentious clause among some teams. However, clubs are still anticipated to receive compensation for relinquishing a small portion of the broadcast rights.

In its official communication, the DFL clarified that the majority of the funds raised would be directed towards enhancing "long-term revenues from central marketing," affirming that this initiative does not involve the sale of shares in the organisation itself.


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