CVC’s £365mn Stake in Six Nations Rugby

By Shivaum Bapu, Mohammed Safayat, Pristie Sharma, and Daniel Winsor (UCL), Sally Marshall, Izer Onadim, Max Raso, and Valeriya Shreyber (Imperial College London)


Overview of the deal

Acquirer: CVC Capital Partners

Target: Six Nations Rugby

Total Transaction Size: £365 million

Closed date: 11/03/2021

Acquirer advisor: Oakwell Sports Advisory

Target advisor: Rothschild & Co

Being the oldest rugby tournament in the world, The Six Nations championship is world-famous, so it's no surprise its organising body attracts investors from across the world. The latest partnership for the sporting body is with CVC Capital partners - a European private equity and investment advisory firm, which brings alongside with it the hopes of strategy to help grow and develop the game further, through technological advances and commercial expertise.

The long-term nature of the partnership will see The Six Nations receiving CVC’s investment over a five-year period, over which the organisation will use the investment to bolster rugby development across the six nations involved in the tournament. The investment is akin to those previously seen from CVC, who add the transaction to total their stake in the game to £600m, with a future of becoming a dominant player in the game not too far away for the firm.

“The Six Nations Championship is steeped in rugby tradition, stretching back to 1883, and together with the women’s, Under-20s and Autumn International series, is synonymous with all the excitement, colour, and passion that rugby has to offer. This external investment is an important validation of what Six Nations Rugby has achieved to date and is a key next step as we invest to grow the game on the world stage.” - Ben Morel, CEO, Six Nations Rugby

Company Details: (Acquirer - CVC)

CVC Capital Partners is a private equity and investment advisory firm with approximately $111bn in secured commitments since inception across European and Asian private equity, credit and growth funds. As of 2019, CVC managed $75bn of assets. The funds managed or advised by CVC are invested in 73 companies worldwide, employing over 300,000 people in numerous countries.

Founded in 1981, headquartered in Luxembourg

CEO: John Clark

Number of employees: 400

Market Cap: N/A (privately held)

Assets under management (AUM): $75 billion

Company Details: (Target - Six Nations Rugby)

Six Nations Rugby is the official organising body of the annual Six Nations Championships and Autumn International Series. The Six Nations Championship started in 1883 making it the oldest international rugby tournament in the world. It has six member unions and federations which include England, France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy.

Founded in 1883, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland

CEO: Ben Morel

Number of employees: N/A

Market Cap: N/A (privately held)

Projections and Assumptions

Short-term consequences

CVC views the transaction as crucial to their ambitious plans of becoming the dominant commercial player in one of the world’s favourite sports, taking their investment in rugby to over £600m since it first targeted the game two years ago. Parts of the £365m investment will be deferred and is dependent on conditions being met around the financial performance and solvency of the union and on games being resumed in an attempt to protect themselves from the pandemic.

CVC has been particularly active in rugby, spotting an opportunity to become the sport’s dominant commercial player by taking minority stakes in competitions and governing bodies. They aim to use this influence to bundle TV rights for rugby competitions around the world into a single package for broadcasters. CVC is also exploring streaming deals to digital players such as Amazon, as well as the creation of an ‘’over the top’’ internet subscription service for fans, as they believe the sport is undervalued by broadcasters in particular.

The group’s approach to rugby marks a radical departure from the traditional buyout model, where deals are financed in part by loading takeover targets with debt, then aiming to sell them on at a profit within three to five years. Sports deals will force private equity to reckon with passionate forces not present in many of the leveraged buyouts that they are more used to; this time, the product is rooted in a sense of identity, community, and shared histories.