Private equity firm eyes stake in All Blacks

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US private equity firm Silver Lake is in talks to acquire a stake in New Zealand’s All Blacks, according to reports.

The transaction would be for a stake of up to 15% in the three-time winners of the Rugby World Cup.

New Zealand’s national treasure burned through nearly half of its cash reserves last year during Covid-19 lockdowns.

New Zealand Rugby has since been looking at other sources of funding.

The All Blacks are New Zealand’s most recognisable sporting team and are one of the best-known brands in international Rugby.

The team won the Rugby World cup in 1987, 2011 and 2015, but lost to England in the semi-final of the 2019 world cup in Japan.

The talks with Silver Lake were first reported by Sky News, which said the deal for a 15% stake would value the team at about $2bn (£1.5bn).

Sky said a deal had not been concluded, but could be announced as soon as this month.

Burned through cash

In November, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Mark Robinson told the New Zealand Herald that it had burned through 47% of its NZ$86m (£44m) cash reserves in 2020.

NZR was on track to earn revenue of NZ$100m when the sport was suspended during a national lockdown.

Silver Lake describes itself as a “global technology investment firm” with approximately $75bn in combined assets under management.

However, it has invested in a number of sporting ventures, including City Football Group, which owns Manchester City FC, as well as sports teams in the US, Australia, Japan, Spain and Uruguay.

Silver Lake was also part of a consortium which paid $4bn for the Mixed Martial Arts brand UFC in 2016.

The BBC contacted Silver Lake but a spokesman declined to comment on the deal.