NZ players propose public listing instead of Silver Lake deal

Last month all 26 unions approved sale of stake in commercial arm to private firm

Last month the 26 provincial unions approved the sale of a stake in the commercial arm of NZ Rugby. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Last month the 26 provincial unions approved the sale of a stake in the commercial arm of NZ Rugby. Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

 

New Zealand’s rugby players on Friday presented an alternative capital raising option to the deal offered by US private equity firm Silver Lake for a minority stake in New Zealand Rugby (NZR).

New Zealand Rugby Players Association (NZRPA) has suggested the sale of a five per cent stake in NZR’s revenue generating assets through initial public offering in the New Zealand stock market.

NZRPA commissioned New Zealand investment company Forsyth Barr to work out the alternate capital raising option. David Kirk, the NZRPA president, is chairman of Forsyth Barr.

Last month, all 26 constituent provincial rugby unions approved the sale of a 12.5 per cent stake in NZR’s commercial arm, including rights to the iconic All Blacks, to Silver Lake in a deal worth NZ$387.5 million (€230million).

Forsyth Barr said its valuation of NZR’s commercial rights is between NZ$3.4-NZ$3.8 billion (€2bn-€2.25bn), higher than the Silver Lake valuation of NZ$3.1 billion (€1.84bn).

The All Blacks are by far New Zealand’s best-known sports team and many in the rugby-mad country have expressed concern that even a small part of the national treasure might come under foreign control.

Players have resisted the Silver Lake deal, expressing concerns of loss of control and risks of “cultural misappropriation”.

NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said the new proposal by the players association leadership attempts to destroy the Silver Lake deal, and the “the greatest opportunity for the future of all of Rugby in New Zealand could be lost”.

Neil Paviour-Smith, managing director of Forsyth Barr, told Reuters that a listing at the national stock market would give local investors a chance to be a part of the deal, and it had already received a lot of interest.

“It surprises me that NZ Rugby feel the new offer undermines the Silver Lake deal. What we have put up via NZRPA is an alternative way of proceeding that’s worth considering, and let’s have that discussion and debate,” he said.

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