July 23, 2020 / 3:22 PM / 18 days ago

Serie A to discuss bids over media right business next week - sources

MILAN (Reuters) - Clubs in Italy’s Serie A soccer league will meet next week to discuss investor bids for their media business, with an array of international funds expected to join the race, two sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Italy's Lega Serie A is seen in Milan, Italy, December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Representatives from the 20 Serie A clubs will meet on July 30 to discuss various proposals, the sources said, cautioning that a decision might not emerge that day.

Seeking to boost revenues, Serie A last week asked investors to submit bids to buy a stake of up to 15% in a newly created media company which would control the league’s broadcast rights.

Private equity firms CVC, Bain Capital, Advent International, TPG, Apollo and General Atlantic were invited to submit bids by Friday but one of the sources said the deadline had been pushed back to Monday to give investors more time to detail proposals.

The same source said other investors are expected to join the race, potentially including Fortress and Blackstone’s credit arm GSO, which is exploring a debt financing deal.

China’s Wanda Sports is also readying a project to improve the league’s media distribution globally and create a dedicated Serie A multiplatform channel, a third source said.

Serie A, which relies on broadcasting rights for more than half of its revenues, lags behind the English Premier League, La Liga in Spain and the German Bundesliga in terms of how much money it generates.

According to a report by consulting firm Deloitte, the Italian league raised 1.5 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in broadcasting rights revenues last season against the English Premier League’s 3.5 billion euros.

The current broadcast deals for the Italian league expire at the end of next season.

As in other European countries, Italian top flight soccer has resumed behind closed doors but the long term impact on TV viewing numbers remains unclear.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Editing by Keith Weir

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