By Amy-Jo Crowley
LONDON (Reuters) – Buyout fund HIG Capital is preparing to put its sports management agency Sportfive up for sale, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The Miami-based firm has hired Citi to explore a sale of the former Lagardere sports business, which manages media rights for events such as the World Aquatics and World Weightlifting Championships, the people said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
HIG is looking to sell now as the company has performed well and it is looking to capitalise on that success, one of the people said. The deliberations are at an early stage and a sale could happen next year unless markets deteriorate further, the person said.
HIG and Sportfive declined to comment. Citi did not respond to a request for comment.
A deal would follow a rebound of activity in the sports marketing sector.
Sports and music marketing group Wasserman for instance earlier this year bought CSM Sport & Entertainment from Chime Communications for an undisclosed amount, while China’s Dalian Wanda Group is seeking to sell its sports marketing unit Infront, headquartered in Switzerland, Reuters reported in August.
Headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, Sportfive manages events, media rights brands and sponsorship sales across sports including soccer, handball, Olympics events, esports and American football, with a network of 1,200 experts across 15 countries.
It also represents athletes including table tennis champion Timo Boll and badminton player Viktor Axelsel.
The business is targeting core earnings or EBITDA of more than 55 million euros ($58 million) next year, the sources said.
HIG Capital’s ownership of Sportfive dates back to January 2020 when it took a 75.1% stake in what was then the sports marketing arm of French media and retail group Lagardere for 110 million euros, then rebranded it in line with its original name before it was acquired by Lagardere in 2006 for a reported 865 million euros.
The buyout group took full control of the company in 2021.
Sportfive has since bought Chicago-based Global Golf Management, an events management and consultancy firm, in 2021, as well as marketing specialist Wolfe Solutions, in 2022, both for undisclosed sums.
($1 = 0.9438 euros)
(Reporting by Amy-Jo Crowley; Editing by Anousha Sakoui and David Holmes)