The cash-strapped Western Province Rugby Union could be set for a significant injection of funds from American investors.
IOL reports that New York-based company MVM Holdings, headed by leading South African lawyer Marco Masotti, submitted an exclusivity agreement to the WPRFU earlier this month to buy a 51 percent stake in the Stormers for US$6 million (about R100 million)
As majority owners of the Cape Town franchise, the consortium – made up of a group of South African businessmen based in the United States – would obtain controlling interest of the club should the WPRFU accept the offer.
Speaking to Independent Media on Monday, Masotti said that the union had expressed concern about giving up the controlling share of the Super Rugby side to private equity firm.
He believes, however, the experience his group possesses would help grow the Stormers’ brand to a broad international market in Europe and the USA.
“The Western Province RFU has come back to us with the concern that they should keep the controlling share, but that they would give us an equitable share of the board of the Stormers”, Masotti told IOL.
“They want to keep control of rugby affairs and we could control the commercial affairs, but that wouldn’t work for us.
“There needs to be one controller and the guys that are involved in this bid have extensive experience in enterprises of this kind — we are talking about owners of NBA and ice hockey teams.”
Masotti – who said US$2m of the US$6m price tag would be invested into the WPRFU, while the remaining US$4m would go into the balance sheet of the Stormers’ board – suggested a takeover of the Stormers could lead to business opportunities with prominent sporting entities.
“The sport of rugby is stressed and needs change to survive and then flourish, and we see so much potential in Cape Town and the Stormers as a brand — they have iconic figures in an exciting team based in one of the world’s great cities,” he said.
“We see great opportunities to link the Stormers with [the] Milwaukee Bucks and grow the brand in Europe and States.”
The chance to team inspirational Springboks and Stormers captain Siya Kolisi up with Bucks star and NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo may well be a marketing ploy too rich to pass up for the WPRFU, especially given the financial landscape in a post-coronavirus era.
It seems the union has taken that into consideration, as Masotti revealed that the WPRFU board member Andre van der Veen had undertaken a search to find an equity investor, which led to the multi-million dollar offer from MVM.
Van der Veen told IOL that MVM’s offer is still very much on the table, with Masotti adding that negotiations are “ongoing”.
“Our discussions with Western Province are ongoing and they are going to come back to us regarding our concerns.”