The parent company of Premier League champions Manchester City has been given a global record sports valuation of $4.8-billion after United States equity firm Silver Lake acquired just over 10% of the company on Wednesday.
Silver Lake has signed a definitive agreement to make a $500-million investment in City Football Group (CFG).
CFG, which has a stake in seven football clubs globally, including in the US, Australia, Japan and China, already has 12% of its equity held by a consortium of Chinese institutional investors, led by Chinese media and entertainment conglomerate CMC Inc.
California-based Silver Lake has moved into entertainment in recent years after being primarily known for investing in technology companies such as Alibaba, Dell and Skype.
CFG chairperson Khaldoon Al Mubarak said in a statement the investment would help the company grow.
“We and Silver Lake share the strong belief in the opportunities being presented by the convergence of entertainment, sports and technology and the resulting ability for CFG to generate long-term growth and new revenue streams globally.”
Abu Dhabi United Group, which has poured hundreds of millions of pounds into City since buying the club in 2008 from Thai businessman Thaksin Shinawatra, remains the majority CFG shareholder with about 77% of the company, according to Silver Lake.
Egon Durban, Sliver Lake’s managing director, said investing in CFG was exciting as they were showing the way for others in innovative ways of how to market football while preserving the history of the clubs.
“We are excited to partner with the board and CFG’s world-class management team to help drive the next phase of CFG’s growth in the fast-growing premium sports and entertainment content market,” he said in a statement.
“We greatly respect CFG’s stewardship of more than a century of soccer [football] tradition and the strong global fanbases of its clubs.”
Earlier this year, Joe Tsai, co-founder of China’s online giant Alibaba, bought a controlling share in the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, which gave it a $2.35-billion valuation, the highest for a US sports team.
Manchester City have won the Premier League title four times since Abu Dhabi United Group, the investment vehicle owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, took over the club.
They have enjoyed 11 successive years of financial growth and earlier this month reported record revenue of £535-million last season.
They are sitting third in the Premier League table and reached the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday.
A Puma kit deal of £45-million a year has also added to their coffers.
The one cloud on City’s horizon is a potential ban from the Champions League if found guilty of breaching UEFA’s Financial Fairplay rules.
An appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) asking for UEFA’s probe to be halted failed.
The club will now face judgment from European football’s ruling body’s adjudicatory chamber.
The other clubs in CFG’s portfolio are Melbourne City, Yokohama F Marinos, New York City FC, Uruguayan outfit Club Atletico Torque and Spanish side Girona. — AFP