Bahrain-based fund agrees to acquire football club Leeds United

Bahrain-based investor Gulf Finance House (GFH) on Thursday said its fully-owned unit GFH Capital Ltd had inked an exclusive deal to head and arrange the takeover of Leeds City Holdings, the parent of Leeds United Football Club (LUFC).

The company gave no details on the financial aspect of the acquisition, or the timetable, invoking a confidentiality agreement.
However, it said that LUFC is one of the best supported English football clubs, with an attendance above the average per match day of most teams in the Premier League.

GFH expects the club to get financial benefits from the recent negotiations of football broadcast rights and sees chances for it to step up into the Premier League, it added.

Leeds United is currently one step below the Premiership, being 12th in the second league of British football. The club, active since 1919, is also known as the Whites, United and the Peacocks. It has so far won three League Championships and one FA Cup, with the last English championship won in 1992.

Ken Bates, Leeds’ chairman, said five days ago that the club was in advanced talks over a potential investment, Bloomberg reported. On 26 June 2012, the club said it had entered into an exclusivity arrangement with a potential investor, Daily Mail reported.

US-based Cala aims for Serie A with Calcio Lecco acquisition

US development-stage company Cala Corporation (PINK:CCAA) has taken control of Calcio Lecco 1912 SpA, the entity behind the eponymous Italian football club.

Cala did not say how much it had paid to acquire 79% of the club’s outstanding shares.

As its name indicates, Calcio Lecco was established in 1912 and used to rank among the major Italian clubs. However, ownership and management in the past two decades have been in the hands of amateur operators and Calcio Lecco has slipped into the fourth division of the Italian football league. Cala aims to restore the former glory of the club, bringing it back into the ranks of Serie A, Italy’s Premier League.

The US company is convinced this can be achieved with the right management and Calcio Lecco can win its promotion into the elite division. Being among the top 20 gives an Italian football club the right to share into TV royalty income amounting to some USD1bn (EUR806m).

Cala also pointed out that there was huge football demand on a global scale and TV royalties continue to go up every year. By way of an example, the company cited the English Premier League, where royalties for the coming year have surged to GBP3.3bn from GBP1.2bn.

Cala said that its long-term plans included the construction of a world-class stadium. The facility would be next to shopping malls, hotels, hospitals, a college, a premium office building, a convention centre and unlimited parking space.

London-listed sports content firm Perform agrees to acquire Swiss rival RunningBall

British multimedia sports content distributor Perform Group plc (LON:PER) said on Wednesday it will take over Swiss real-time sports data provider RunningBall Holding AG for a maximum of EUR120m (USD152.5m) in cash and stock.

The move will boost the number of licensees Perform has, as well as the average number of events which are currently acquired by its existing ones. The group’s directors believe that the combination of its own sports editorial and video products with RunningBall’s sports data will improve the buyer’s solid growth prospects significantly.
The transaction is seen to build on the group’s earnings and EPS in both 2012 and 2013.

Under the terms of the deal, a unit of Perform will acquire the two holding companies of RunningBall for an initial amount of EUR70m, including EUR20m in cash and 13.5m new ordinary shares. Furthermore, the group will make an additional cash payment of between EUR31m and EUR50m, based on a nine times multiple to the target company’s audited EBITDA for 2012.

The buyer intends to use its existing cash resources to fund the cash portion of the initial consideration, while the deferred amount will be financed from new debt facilities.

Last year, RunningBall produced real-time data coverage of more than 35,000 sporting events and expects to increase this figure to 40,000 in 2012. The firm has operational centres in Austria, Portugal, Cyprus and Malaysia with over 1,100 scouts in more than 70 countries. It booked an EBITDA of EUR7.2m on a revenue of EUR16.1m in 2011.