(BFM Bourse) – The OL Groupe could have a second life on the stock market, but this time in the United States. According to FinancialTimesthe new owner of the Lyon football club plans to list Eagle Football on the New York Stock Exchange this year, via a SPAC.
OL Groupe has not even delisted yet before it could return to the stock market… The new owners of the Rhone club plan to launch Eagle Football on the stock market this year, via a “blank check” company, reports the FinancialTimes. This operation would be a first in the football industry.
Controlled by American businessman John Textor, Eagle Football Holdings finalized the takeover of OL Groupe on December 19 after many twists and turns. The group also owns Brazilian club Botafogo, Belgian second division club RWD Molenbeek and has a 40% stake in Premier League club Crystal Palace.
To help with its listing project, Eagle Football will call on Iconic Sports Management, an investment fund owned among others by hedge fund manager Jamie Dinan and former banker Alexander Knaster. They are respectively the owners of the Milwaukee Bucks (NBA) basketball club and the Pisa Sporting Club, a football club playing in the Italian Serie B (second division).
Via a SPAC
This investment fund specializing in sport was also involved in the takeover of OL Groupe. Iconic Sports Management has indeed taken a $75 million stake in Eagle Football to help finance the purchase of the Gones club, recalls the FT.
To quench its thirst for sports business acquisitions, Iconic Sports Management has launched the Iconic Sport Acquisition SPAC. This so-called “blank check” investment vehicle raised $345 million when it went public in October 2021. The company said at the time that it would seek out “iconic businesses, including sports franchises, which will complement his expertise in the sports data, media and technology sectors.” Eagle Football is therefore part of the spectrum targeted by the sports investment fund. As a reminder, SPACs are investment vehicles that raise funds on the stock market in order to acquire a company and merge with it.
As part of the agreement concluded with the specialized investment fund, Eagle Football will merge with the SPAC Iconic Sports Acquisition Corp listed in New York, according to documents filed with the American regulator of the markets, explains the FT. According to these same documents, Eagle Football would be valued at around 1.2 billion dollars “although there is no guarantee that the transaction will take place” adds the FT.
However, the context is not ideal for piloting this unique project. Investor interest in SPACs has taken a turn for the worse in an environment of risk aversion. Despite this adverse context, “the objective is to introduce Eagle Football on the stock market this year” reports a well-informed source at the FT. However, the timing of the operation will depend on market conditions.
Several clubs, one boss
Eagle Football is counting on the enthusiasm of American investors for European football. In France, 11 clubs from the first three divisions are concerned and are linked to 36 other companies in the world, recalls the JDD. American billionaire Bill Foley, who was in the initial set-up for the takeover of OL last June, finally threw in the towel to buy English club Bournemouth, playing in the Premier League. The American has since crossed the sleeve by taking a stake in French club Lorient last week.
Multi-ownership of clubs by a single investor or company is therefore becoming the norm. According to Deloitte, quoted by the FT, 70 investors or companies own several football clubs in different countries.
Sabrina Sadgui – ©2023 BFM Bourse
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