HomeAfricaSA Rugby pursues private equity deal to double revenue ahead of 2027 World Cup

SA Rugby pursues private equity deal to double revenue ahead of 2027 World Cup

SA Rugby pursues private equity deal to double revenue ahead of 2027 World Cup

SA Rugby, the governing body behind South Africa’s victorious Springboks rugby team, is set to elevate its sponsorship revenue following the team’s back-to-back World Cup triumphs.

The organisation is eyeing a private equity arrangement aimed at doubling its revenue ahead of the 2027 World Cup, with its commercial rights estimated at a value of US$375 million (approximately R7.1 billion).

According to Rian Oberholzer, SA Rugby’s Managing Director, the organisation is seeking approval for the sale of a 20 percent stake in its rights to Seattle-based private equity firm Ackerley Sports Group at an upcoming general council meeting on May 30. Oberholzer stressed that while ensuring financial stability for the Springboks remains a top priority, SA Rugby also recognises its broader role as a national federation responsible for nurturing rugby across the country.

This aligns with a growing trend among national rugby federations of successful teams globally, as they seek to bolster funds through private equity investments. Asset managers are increasingly opting to invest in sports federations and leagues rather than individual teams as a means of diversifying risks.

SA Rugby aims to raise sponsorship revenue to R800 million by 2027, nearly doubling the previous year’s level, as outlined by Oberholzer. This move follows similar investments in rugby, such as Silver Lake Management’s acquisition of a stake in New Zealand Rugby’s commercial activities in 2022 and Rugby Australia’s partnership with Pacific Equity Partners.

Ackerley Sports Group, led by brothers Christopher and Ted Ackerley, has gained attention in the sports industry with a focus on investments spanning leagues, teams, venues, media, technology and development. The group’s ties with CVC Capital Partners, an investor in the Six Nations Rugby competitions, further highlight its prominence in sports investments.

While the proposed deal will grant Ackerley Sports Group a stake in SA Rugby’s commercial rights, South African rugby unions will retain full authority over sporting matters, including team management. Additionally, SA Rugby intends to maintain a majority stake in a newly established company designated to hold the rights.

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