China Investors in $1 Billion Deal for Sports Rights Leader MP & Silva

Chinese investors Everbright and Baofeng have taken a majority stake in Italy-based sports rights group MP & Silva and established a ‘strategic partnership’ with the company.

Everbright, listed in Hong Kong, is a large and diversified financial conglomerate. Baofeng, listed in mainland China, is one of the fastest moving companies in Asia, specializing in digital entertainment and virtual reality. It claims to be “China’s biggest online video-playing platform.”

The two formed the Shanghai Jin Xin investment fund which is taking a 65% stake in MP & Silva. Deal terms were not fully disclosed but other reports have put the implied value of the company at close to $1 billion. Existing MP & Silva shareholders are expected to maintain a significant role in the company and hold on to their 35% share interest.

MP & Silva, which specializes in rights to international soccer and tennis, notably the French Open tennis championships which started this week. It and also covers basketball, motor sport and handball, operates from offices in 20 territories. It had revenues of $600 million in the year to June last year and has forecast significant growth in the current financial period.

“This partnership will provide MP & Silva with additional financial resources to accelerate the growth of the business and build on over a decade of success,” the three companies said in a joint statement. “The new partners will bring expertise and experience that will help facilitate the development of the group internationally, particularly in the rapidly growing and increasing important Chinese market. Additionally, MP & Silva will have access to new and exciting technology, such as virtual reality and Internet-based services that are transforming the delivery of sports events and content.”

Chinese firms have been in the forefront of cross-border moves in sports over the past two years. Dalian Wanda paid Euros 1.2 billion for rival rights group Infront, and has followed that deal with purchases of stakes in Atletico Madrid soccer club and the World Triathlon competition.

China Media Capital bought a minority stake in leading English soccer team Manchester City and a ten year deal for Chinese soccer rights. Streaming firm Le Eco (previously Le Vision) has established LeSports venture already valued at over $2 billion following investments from Alibaba and Tencent. Alibaba itself recently signed a deal to promote world rugby and another Chinese firm Tony Xia’s Recon Group this month announced plans to buy relegated English soccer club Aston Villa.

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