RedBird Capital Partners acquires 85 per cent stake in Toulouse FC

Stadium de Toulouse

RedBird Capital Partners has entered into a definitive agreement with Toulouse FC to acquire an 85 per cent majority stake in the French Ligue 2 football club. 

Toulouse FC was relegated, along with Amiens, from the top tier of French football in April when clubs voted to end the season early due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Founded by Gerald Cardinale, RedBird has over USD4 billion of equity under management. Its investment partners have included the New York Yankees, the Dallas Cowboys and the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. 

Toulouse owner Olivier Sadran has stepped down as majority owner and President, but will retain a 15 per cent ownership stake and remain on the Board of Directors. 

Gerry Cardinale said that RedBird was “proud and excited” to help write the next chapter of Toulouse FC “and realise its tremendous potential”. 

He went on to say: “We are committed to building a sustainable, long-term foundation for the Club’s success by enhancing its on-field sporting performance, business operations and contributions to its community. We look forward to working closely with Olivier, the City of Toulouse and the Occitanie Region to return Toulouse FC to an elite level and elevate the entire city of Toulouse through its long-term success.”

Damien Comoli has been appointed President of Toulouse FC, following a distinguished career across Europe, where he has worked at Liverpool, Arsenal, Fenerbahçe and Saint- Étienne. 

“I welcome Gerry and RedBird as new partners in an organisation and a city that are big parts of my life,” commented Sadran. “I am also pleased that RedBird has brought Damien to Toulouse as a key member of our leadership team. Damien is a well-respected colleague in the Football world.” 

Sadran said he was looking forward to working alongside them and “sharing the pleasure of winning”.

The deal is the latest in a series of sports-related PE acquisitions as private market investors seek out growth transformation opportunities in markets ranging from Formula 1 to the English Rugby Premiership. 

In late 2016, Liberty Media agreed to buy the Formula One Group for USD4.4 billion from CVC, who owned it between 2006 and 2017. CVC also currently has a 27 per cent stake in English Premier Rugby and is weighing up a GBP300 million investment in the Six Nations tournament.   

In Lega Serie A, the top tier of Italian football, authorities are currently weighing up bids from several PE houses, including Bain Capital and Advent International. As reported by Forbes last month, US investment house Bain Capital was believed to have made “a tentative offer” to buy a 25 per cent stake in Serie A for EUR3 billion. 

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