Private equity firm CVC have stepped up their investment in rugby, buying a 28% share of Pro14 Rugby. The deal also sees the Italian federation become part of Celtic Rugby

CVC acquire stake in Guinness Pro14

The Guinness Pro14 has agreed a “strategic partnership” with CVC Fund VII to develop the competition. The private equity company will acquire a 28% share of Pro14 Rugby from Celtic Rugby DAC, with the participating unions retaining the 72% majority share.

The partnership commitment allows both Pro14 Rugby and the Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh unions to continue to invest in the sport to achieve its potential over the long term.

As part of this agreement, the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR), will become a member of Celtic Rugby DAC and receive a share of the investment.

No official figure has been given for the size of the investment, but it’s thought the Welsh slice of the cake is worth around £35m. The money would go to the WRU for them to distribute as they see fit.

Chief executive Martin Anayi will continue to lead the management team at Pro14 Rugby, working closely with CVC and the unions on execution of the commercial plan.

He said: “CVC’s show of faith has been impressive and is in keeping with their proven track record of success when it comes to sports investment, including Formula One, Moto GP and Premiership Rugby. This partnership allows all our stakeholders to plan for a sustainable period of growth, which will benefit the fans, the players and the game.

“We are very pleased to partner with CVC, who saw us as an ambitious, fast-paced and innovative organisation, situated across a number of core rugby nations that can deliver an increasing impact.

“We believe the Guinness Pro14 is a world-class club league that is still in its growth phase and we are confident it will become a major standard bearer in our sport.”

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Dominic McKay, chairman of Celtic Rugby DAC and CEO of Scottish Rugby, said: “I’m delighted we have managed to welcome CVC into the Guinness Pro14 as our partner. As a board, we have been ambitious in our outlook and have significantly developed the league in recent years. One of our key goals was to secure a strategic partner to help accelerate our plans and CVC bring a wealth of experience and great expertise in this regard.

“Sport, like all of society, is dealing with major challenges currently that we could not have imagined just a few months ago. It is testament to the strength of our partnership with CVC that they have committed to the game of rugby in a such a significant way.

“We are also delighted that the FIR has now joined Celtic Rugby DAC as a shareholder after ten years of participation in the league.”

The announcement follows on the heels of CVC’s investment in the Gallagher Premiership in December 2018. The firm splashed out more than £200m in acquiring a shareholding of about 27% in the English competition.

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