MELBOURNE, May 15 (Reuters) - The cash-strapped Australian Rugby Union (ARU) are close to selling off the Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby franchise, which will save them more than A$3 million ($2.41 million) a year.
The ARU, who announced a loss of A$6.3 million for 2014 last month, said on Friday they had entered into an exclusive heads of agreement with a Melbourne-based investment group to sell the remaining shares in the club.
"We are now progressing legal documentation and detailed due diligence is underway to finalise the transaction," ARU CEO Bill Pulver said in a statement.
"We expect a formal transfer of the company will be completed by 30 June 2015."
The ARU took over the Rebels from 2013, when a consortium of private investors walked away from the club after burning through A$8 million in three seasons.
The ARU said they had spent more than A$5 million in 2013 on the side, who became the fifth Australian Super Rugby franchise in 2011.
The Rebels finished bottom of the standings in their inaugural season and were again 15th in 2014 but have racked up a best ever performance of six wins this term to leave themselves in contention for a maiden playoff campaign. ($1 = 1.2432 Australian dollars) (Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore, editing by Nick Mulvenney)