May 22, 2020 / 12:17 PM / 7 days ago

Rugby-CVC Capital boosts rugby portfolio with 28% stake in Pro 14 league

May 22 (Reuters) - CVC Capital Partners has completed its acquisition of a 28% stake in the Pro 14 rugby league in a deal that will likely increase the private equity firm’s influence in ongoing discussions to remodel the global rugby calendar.

The company already has a minority stake in England’s Premiership Rugby, reported to be worth more than 200 million pounds ($243.46 million).

The Pro 14, which was owned equally by the Irish, Scottish and Welsh Rugby Unions, includes teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa.

Under the agreement, the Italian Rugby Federation will receive part of the investment and join Celtic Rugby DAC, the company owned by the Irish, Scottish and Welsh unions that runs the league.

Financial details were not disclosed, but the BBC reported last year that CVC’s stake was valued at about 120 million pounds ($146 million) and the unions would each get a 35 million pounds cash injection.

"The partnership... will allow Pro 14 Rugby and the Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh rugby unions to continue to invest in the sport," the Pro 14 and CVC Capital said in a statement here on Friday.

CVC Capital was reported last year to be on the brink of acquiring a stake in the Six Nations.

World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper has expressed reservations about CVC’s interest in the Six Nations, saying a high funding commercial owner could end up making calls that are not in the best interests of the sport.

Welsh Rugby Union CEO Martyn Phillips said CVC’s investment would bring about a “sea change” in the Pro 14’s ability to reach its full potential.

“This investment is great news... although we are under no illusions that COVID-19... will continue to have a significant impact... for some time,” Phillips added. ($1 = 0.8215 pounds) (Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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