Barcelona strikes $1 billion merger deal to list soccer club’s media business

MADRID (Reuters) -Spanish soccer club FC Barcelona said it will list a new $1 billion content creation business called Barca Media on Nasdaq, through a merger with a so-called blank check company.

Barcelona’s president Joan Laporta, who was re-elected in 2021 to lead the club out of an institutional and financial crisis, has been looking to develop new avenues to generate additional revenue and has brought in new sponsors.

The club said the deal with special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Mountain & Co. I Acquisition Corp, which must still be approved by club members and the SPAC’s shareholders, will bring new capital into a business it expects to be an important source of future revenue.

A SPAC is a listed entity that merges with a private firm to take it public. Such shell companies help companies avoid the longer route of an initial public offering (IPO).

Subject to approval by the U.S. stock market regulator, Barca Media would start trading on Nasdaq after the merger deal closes in the last quarter of this year, Barcelona said.

Existing shareholders of Barca Media, a new brand that will combine the digital business of existing brand Barca Vision with all audio-visual content, will retain an 80% stake in the media business, assuming none of the Mountain’s shareholders redeem their shares and no further capital is raised.

The club also said investment funds LIBERO Football Finance and NIPA Capital bought a combined 29.5% stake in Bridgeburg, the holding firm that owns Barca Vision, for 120 million euros ($132 million).

LIBERO, which advises football clubs seeking to obtain financing, said in a separate statement it had acquired a 9.8% stake in Bridgeburg for 40 million euros.

Spanish soccer clubs now have to meet a salary cap in order to register new signings as well as those players who sign contract renewals. Last year, Barcelona resorted to selling club assets in order to create the margin needed to satisfy LaLiga.

Barcelona will not play at its outdated Camp Nou stadium, its biggest source of income, over the next few seasons after agreeing a financing deal worth 1.45 billion euros to revamp it.

(Reporting by Niket Nishant and Pritam Biswas in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Corina Pons and Fernando Kallas in Madrid; editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, David Latona and Alexander Smith)