Sky Italia investment plan floated as Serie A review finance options

Italy's Lega Serie A headquarters in Milan
A logo of Italy's Lega Serie A is seen in Milan, Italy, December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

MILAN, March 13 (Reuters) - Italy's leading soccer clubs discussed plans on Monday for outside investment in the media business of Serie A as reports surfaced of an audacious bid by the league for pay TV broadcaster Sky Italia.

The top 20 clubs met with league executives in Milan to discuss approaches by private equity firms and banks interested in investing in its media business.

The meeting broke up without a decision and the clubs will gather again at the end of the month.

"The proposals received from funds and banks were set out to the clubs who have given themselves time to evaluate the various options," Serie A Chairman Lorenzo Casini told reporters.

Asked about a report by Italian daily La Stampa over a possible investment in Sky Italia, he added "there is nothing concrete on the table at the moment".

Serie A has made an internal preliminary analysis of a potential transaction, exploring scenarios such as taking a majority stake in the pay-TV operator owned by U.S. group Comcast (CMCSA.O) or part of its operations, a source familiar with the matter said.

A separate source told Reuters that under a plan floated by Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo, the league may use financing from international banks interested in investing in its media business to fund a potential deal.

The potential move would be consistent with the league's long-held ambition to build its own platform to screen games in Italy.

Comcast did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.

Industry sources estimate Sky Italia has some 4.2 million customers in Italy, nearly half of whom take its sport services.

Later this year Serie A is expected to invite applications for the rights to screen its matches in Italy for the seasons starting from 2024/2025.

Club and league officials have warned that Serie A, which already trails well behind the English Premier League in terms of income, risks receiving a lukewarm response from broadcasters grappling with tough economic conditions and sluggish growth.

DAZN is currently the main rights holder for Serie A but Sky Italia shows three matches each week and DAZN is also available via its platform.

Reporting by Elvira Pollina Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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