Currie Cup

US consortium to take majority ownership in Sharks franchise

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Brian van Zyl. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
Brian van Zyl. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
  • MVM Holdings have taken a majority stake in the Sharks.
  • Based in the United States, the consortium will take a 51% stake in the franchise.
  • Marco Masotti, the man behind the consortium, hails from KwaZulu-Natal.

The Sharks on Thursday confirmed that MVM Holdings, a consortium based in the United States, will take a 51% majority stake in the franchise.

In a statement on their website, the franchise said that the move would bolster their ambitions of becoming a global force in world rugby.

"MVM Holdings, an international investment consortium spearheaded by Marco Masotti, has entered into an agreement to purchase a 51 percent majority stake in The Sharks," said the statement. 

"The current shareholders, the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union and SuperSport International, will hold the remaining 49 percent of the franchise. The financial terms of the transaction are confidential.

"MVM Holdings brings significant finance, sports and management expertise and resources to The Sharks franchise. In addition to Masotti, the members of the consortium include Vincent Mai (Chairman and CEO of  Cranemere LLC), Marc Lasry (Founder of Avenue Capital and owner of the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks team), Doug Cifu (CEO of Virtu Financial, Inc. and owner of the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers team), Robert D. Haswell (Founding Partner of Dominus Capital), Dominic Silvester (CEO of Enstar Group Limited) and Michael Yormark (President of Roc Nation Sports International). Roc Nation will assist with the global expansion of The Sharks brand.

"With the international rugby landscape poised to undergo transformational change in the coming years, investors have identified rugby as an attractive opportunity and invested in some of Europe’s leading rugby competitions. It is expected that the enlarged PRO16 competition will accelerate this trend. Navigation of the fast-changing rugby business requires a diverse and strong shareholder group who can implement a strategic plan and provide the resources to ensure that The Sharks become the premier rugby brand in the world," the statement added.

Masotti, who was born in KwaZulu-Natal, was happy that the deal had been concluded saying that rugby could play a major part in community building.

"The Sharks have a deep and wonderful history that can translate into a formidable global rugby brand," said Masotti.

"Our investment is designed to facilitate the expansion of the franchise through deep relationships with business people, financing sources and other sporting codes.  We believe that rugby provides a unique platform for character and community building. We intend to shine a global light on the city of Durban and create opportunities for players from diverse backgrounds to become international stars," Masotti added.

Brian Van Zyl, the newly-elected president of the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union, expressed confidence that the partnership has come at the right time and with the right partners for the Sharks.

"In all our dealings with Marco Masotti, it was abundantly clear that his consortium, together with SuperSport, will bring not only greater commercial savviness but also international ties that will result in the Sharks becoming one of the most recognised global sports brands," said Van Zyl.

Earlier this year, MVM were in negotiations to buy a majority shareholdership of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) for R100 million but the deal fell through.

At the time, WPRFU leadership, headed by president Zelt Marais, were understood to not be prepared to give up its controlling stake in the union, which was a non-negotiable for MVM.

After negotiations between the union and MVM broke down, Masotti moved swiftly to the east coast where he began lining up the Sharks.

- Compiled by Sport24 staff

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