European private equity firm Bridgepoint has reached an agreement to acquire Infront Sports & Media AG, the rights holders for the World Superbike Championship. Bridgepoint also owns Dorna, the rights holders for the MotoGP World Championship.Bridgepoint will take 100 percent of Infront’s shares from Jacobs Holding AG, the Junkermann Group and Dr. Martin Steinmeyer for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is subject to the approval of the antitrust authorities, according to a release issued today.Infront represents more than 120 top sports rights holders, including the World Superbike Championship, and delivers ,300 event days each year. In 2010, Infront generated revenues of over 600 milllion Euro and has more than 20 offices across Europe and Asia and a diversified rights portfolio in winter sports, football and summer sports. It is also a key player in media production handling some of the most complex sports events, including the FIFA World Cup.In soccer, it is partner to international and national federations (e.g. the German Football Federation DFB), leagues (e.g. the Italian Lega Calcio) as well as clubs (e.g. A.C. Milan, FC Schalke O4, SV Werder Bremen). In winter sports, Infront is the a market leader representing six out of the seven Olympic winter sports federations, including FIS for skiing and the IIHF for ice hockey; in motorsports, it is the promoter of the FIM Superbike World Championship. Infront is also one of the leading sports marketing organizations in China where it represents the Chinese Basketball Association – on league and national team level.Dr. Andreas Jacobs, Chairman of the Infront Board of Directors, said: “We are pleased that after an extensive strategic review we have found a new investor which will actively contribute to Infront’s ambitious growth plans which we believe will be of great benefit to our esteemed clients as well. We wish Bridgepoint and Infront well on behalf of the current shareholders.”
Philippe Blatter, Infront’s President & CEO, said: “Bridgepoint is the strong new strategic investor we have been looking for. The company is fully committed to actively contribute to Infront’s ambitious expansion plans and to support our solid international team – Bridgepoint shares our long-term vision. We are convinced that the new and strengthened ownership structure will not only form an even stronger basis for the future success of Infront, but will be of great benefit to our valued partners and clients. With Bridgepoint as our shareholder, we are in a position to tackle many additional opportunities now presented by the market while remaining highly focused on the continued delivery of high quality services to our clients and partners in all areas of our existing business.”
The global sports rights market is estimated to be worth $121 billion in 2011, with the global market for media and sponsorship rights representing $56 billion, according to the release.Bridgepoint’s experience in the sector includes its current investment via another fund in Dorna, the global rights holder to the MotoGP World Championship, as well as a successful track record in TV production that includes All3Media in Great Britain, producer of Formula One in the UK and Marathon Group in France, respectively sold in 2006 and 2007.
“Bridgepoint will encourage the further development of Superbike and MotoGP although both series will continue to be organized and managed separately,” the release states. “Dorna and Infront Motor Sports are each fully committed to the long-term relationship with the FIM as their strategic partner as well as the successful partnerships with teams and manufacturers, circuit owners, sponsors, broadcasters and other stakeholders of the series.”