Decisive vote on the agreement between the New Zealand Federation and the US investment fund Silver Lake

Decisive vote on the agreement between the New Zealand Federation and the US investment fund Silver Lake

American style all blacks? The controversial merger between New Zealand Rugby Union (NZR) and California investment fund Silver Lake will be put to a vote on Thursday at an extraordinary general meeting after two years of controversy. “An exceptional opportunity to secure the future and unlock true potentialNew Zealand rugby: This is how New Zealand coach Mark Robinson introduced Silver Lake’s arrival to New Zealand rugby in February.

The agreement provides for the creation of a commercial company, majority owned by the Federation, but the US company will invest NZ$200 million (€118 million). After that, institutional investors will be able to inject an additional 100 million euros (59 million euros), during the second phase later this year, in which the New Zealand state is required to hold about 90% of the capital of the new entity. In exchange for its experience in better promoting New Zealand rugby and the All Blacks brand internationally, Silver Lake could acquire massive commercial rights currently valued at NZ$3.5 billion (€2 billion).

The goal of the NZR is to be able to invest money in women’s rugby and regional rugby, while creating a fund to ensure the long-term financial stability of a confederation, which has often been in deficit in recent years with €20 million in particular in losses in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. . NZR could also prevent the departure of some of its best players to Europe or Japan.

Rugby after MMA

But behind this bright future potential, the already mentioned two-year agreement divides New Zealand rugby. The first bid, the highest (about 235 million euros), made the country’s players’ association (NZRPA) grueling. Its president, David Kirk, told AFP last year that he feared sacrificing an all-black spirit for business interests, before changing his mind about the partnership. If the NZRPA favored the offer received in February, the opinion of the 26 regional associations, which make up the NZR, has yet to be heard. They did not offer their support and asked for more time to evaluate the project.

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A report by an audit firm, commissioned by NZR, has cast doubt on Silver Lake’s ability to achieve some of its business goals. He also doubts that New Zealand needs such a huge amount of money. Silver Lake is not in any way on its first attempt at sports. In 2016, she was part of a group of investors that bought UFC, the main organizer of MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fights, and three years later paid $500 million to acquire just over 10% of City Football Group, owner of Manchester City Football Club. .

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