Advent, RTL and Goldman Sachs score €865m

Advent International, along with consortium members RTL and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, have sold Sportfive, the German-headquartered sports rights marketing group, to Lagardere, a French media group, for €865m.

The deal is Lagardere’s first move into the sports rights trading and agency market, and is part of the company’s strategy to increase its presence in exclusive-access media content. Sportfive acts as a partner to sporting bodies and clubs, helping them to extract maximum value from their rights, such as media rights and marketing rights.

Sportfive’s predominant market is football, where it owns the rights to 250 clubs in Europe, 50 of Europe’s football associations and leagues, as well as the media rights for international football tournaments like Euro 2008 and the African Cup of Nations. The company operates across five continents. For 2006, the business anticipates revenues of €52m. The sports TV and marketing rights industry is expected to be worth €12bn by the end of the year across EMEA, with solid, organic growth of 6% per year through to 2010.

Sportfive was listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, created through the merger of UFA Sports (owned by RTL, part of the Bertelsmann Group), Sport+ (owned by Canal+, part of Vivendi) and sports marketing company Groupe Jean Claude Darmon (GJCD).

Advent International purchase took the company private in June 2004 together with the RTL and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and has held a majority stake in the company ever since.

Georg Stratenwerth, general manager of Advent in Frankfurt, said: “Sportfive has enjoyed above-average growth in recent years. The company has greatly expanded its portfolio of marketing and sports rights contracts whilst further strengthening its market position. The future owner Lagardère will continue to pursue the chosen course of growth.”

Advent has a strong track record in Germany, leading seven deals in the last two years, including the acquisition of RWE Solutions, a provider of energy-related services; Casa Reha, a private nursing home group; Herlitz, Germany’s leading manufacturer and supplier of stationery and papeterie; HT Troplast, a leading global plastics processor; and the aforementioned Sportfive (June 2004). Recent exits include the sale of Viatris, a manufacturer of special pharmaceuticals, to the Swedish pharmaceuticals group Meda; and the sale of the industrial electronics group Moeller to Doughty Hanson for €1.1bn.