July 13, 2020 / 5:17 PM / 21 days ago

Italy's Serie A asked investors to submit bids by July 24 for broadcasting rights - sources

MILAN (Reuters) - Serie A has asked investors to submit bids for a minority stake in its broadcasting rights business by July 24, two sources close to the matter said on Monday, as Italy’s top flight soccer league is looking at ways to weather the COVID-19 emergency.

Private equity firms CVC, Bain Capital, Advent International and TPG are among the companies interested in bidding, the sources said. Private equity Apollo and General Atlantic also looked at the dossier, one of the sources said.

CVC, Advent, TPG, General Atlantic and Apollo declined to comment. Bain Capital was not immediately available for a comment.

Serie A, advised by investment bank Lazard, will select a shortlist or will give an exclusive period to one of the bidders by the end of July, a source said.

Broadcasting rights account for more than half of Serie A’s revenues but the business faces growing challenges due to the economic slump triggered by the pandemic, which could further increase the revenue gap with other top European leagues.

Serie A has been in exclusive talks for more than a month over a 2.2 billion euro ($2.50 billion) bid from private equity firm CVC Capital for a stake of up 20% in a venture managing the league’s media rights for 10 seasons. However, negotiations have gone nowhere.

In the meantime, other private equity investors have joined the race with rival bids, sources said last month.

Serie A is looking for fresh resources to boost its media business, but it is not certain that the 20 clubs who play in the league would eventually agree to sell a minority stake, another source said.

Reporting by Elisa Anzolin and Elvira Pollina; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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