JP Morgan’s betting on Italian football. Over the past weeks, the US-based investment bank sent a €1 billion offer to finance Serie A, Italy’s premier football league. That’s the latest sign of its growing activism in the sector.
- JP Morgan managed the ownership changes of two major Italian teams, AC Milan and AS Roma.
- The bank also financed France’s Serie A equivalent, Ligue 1, along with the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium (home of Real Madrid) and the English club Chelsea.
- Other than JP Morgan, eight more banks – Carlyle (along with Apax and The Three Hills), Apollo, Searchlight, Citibank, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs – have expressed interest.
It’s not just JP. As we previously wrote, investors are looking at Italian football with growing interest. Two recent bulletins from the United States’ International Trade Administration (a division of the Department of Commerce) highlighted “the high attractiveness of European football clubs” and the sector’s opportunities for growth.
- That’s especially true in Italy, and numbers show this. 4 out of 9 clubs with new US investors are Italian, and there are press reports of five more teams being eyed from across the Atlantic.
- Moreover, there are ample margins for growth. Serie A’s revenues are just about two-thirds compared to the Spanish Liga and half as much as those of the British Premier League.
The expert’s take. Davide Burani, Head of Advocacy & Public Affairs at the Milan-based American Chamber of Commerce in Italy and keen observer of the investment dynamics of the football industry, told Decode39 that the interest of PE funds – and more generally American investors – in the Serie A League “highlights the existing growth prospects on the one hand, and the discount offers [Italy has] the other.”
- “Buying a Serie A club today is economically and regulatory advantageous, compared to clubs in the other major leagues, while the offers received by the Lega Serie A demonstrate the development potential of Italy’s premier league.”
The point, “as is often the case with these ‘politically sensitive’ investments, is the need to articulate a systemic vision among all the stakeholders involved, finding creative and innovative solutions capable of restoring competitiveness to Italy’s premier league and the country’s seventh-largest industry,” added Mr Burani.
- “The hope is that the entry of highly-qualified subjects (financially speaking) will be accompanied by subjects capable of developing economic and institutional diplomacy activities, with the aim of building a competitive and financially sustainable project platform in the long term.”