(Bloomberg) -- Buyout firms including Blackstone Inc., EQT AB and CVC Capital Partners are submitting bids for a minority stake in a vehicle that holds broadcasting rights for Germany’s top football leagues, according to people familiar with the matter.
Advent International also is interested in a stake, the people said, declining to be identified because the information is private. DFL Deutsche Fussball Liga GmbH is seeking bids of up to €1 billion ($1.1 billion) for a stake of as much as 8%, according to a document seen by Bloomberg News.
Bidders — and their investors — have to come from Western nations, according to the document, meaning cash-rich investors from the Middle East or China would be excluded.
DFL also reserves the right to exclude suitors that have a stake of more than 10% in a rival league, the document shows. CVC Capital, which has a stake in the French and Italian leagues, was among the suitors in a previous bidding process that was halted in May. Bidders are also bound to commit to an eight-year minimum holding period, the document says.
The bids were due Thursday and are supposed to be presented at a meeting of Germany’s 36 professional football clubs on Dec. 11. Blackstone, EQT, CVC, Advent and DFL declined to comment.
Bloomberg reported this month that German football’s governing body was starting a third attempt to raise external capital. The last effort failed to win the necessary two-thirds majority support from clubs in May. In that process, CVC, Blackstone and Advent International were among those interested in investing as much as €1.85 billion for a 12.5% stake in the subsidiary housing Bundesliga broadcasting rights.
The latest attempt to find an external partner for the league has already met with some public opposition. The board of Fortuna Dusseldorf, which voted yes last time to a deal, has been instructed by its fan members to vote against this time. However, the club’s managing board will discuss the issue with members again next week before the supervisory board decides its position, said Alexander Jobst, Fortuna Dusseldorf’s chief executive officer.
“Our aim is to strength the Bundesliga for the future while protecting solidarity and values of the clubs,” he said. “We know about doubts of our members about the DFL’s proposal. As the managing board it is our responsibility to align our members’ concerns with financial and strategic needs for the club.”
The investment is necessary for the Bundesliga to keep pace with other leagues in Europe, said Gerhard Trosien, a professor emeritus for sports management at the Accadis University of Applied Sciences in Bad Homburg.
“German football clubs and fans need to wake up and realize the league has to open up for investments, or else the gap to international rivals will widen,” he said.
(Adds detail on fourth bidder in paragraph two, comment in paragraphs 9-10)
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