CVC in exclusive talks with Serie A over media rights investment -sources

MILAN, May 14 (Reuters) - CVC Capital Partners has entered into exclusive talks with Serie A to invest up to 2.2 billion euros ($2.37 billion) into Italy’s top-flight soccer league’s broadcasting rights business, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The deal could give the league’s clubs fresh resources to cope with growing challenges to the broadcasting rights business, as the coronavirus crisis prompts pay-TV broadcasters to tighten their purse strings.

Under CVC’s proposal, the fund would buy a stake of up to 20% of a new company which would manage Serie A’s media rights for 10 seasons, a venture which CVC values at around 11 billion euros, one of the sources said.

“The deal could result in an immediate powerful cash injection into the clubs’ finances,” another source said.

Serie A’s club representatives discussed CVC’s proposal during a teleconference on Wednesday and gave the green light to the league’s top management to enter into exclusive talks with CVC for up to six weeks, another source said.

Italy’s top pay-TV operator SKY, digital sport firm DAZN and global sports agency IMG, which all hold broadcasting rights to the Serie A, pour 1.3 billion euros annually into club coffers to screen matches under a three-year agreement expiring next season.

The three firms have frozen a payment related to the 2019/20 season which has been halted due to the coronavirus outbreak, three sources familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

CVC has a track record of investing in sports related media businesses. After investing for over a decade in Formula One, CVC bought a minority stake in England’s Premiership Rugby in 2019 and invested in sports investment company Bruin Sports Capital. ($1 = 0.9265 euros) (Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Elisa Anzolin; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)