New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson is anxious to get a private equity deal with Silver Lake approved to match the northern hemisphere rugby nations' economic muscle
Wellington (AFP) - The fate of New Zealand Rugby’s contentious deal with a US private equity firm should be known within a month, after a special general meeting was called by the sport’s bosses on Wednesday.
New Zealand Rugby members have been asked to vote on the proposed investment from Silver Lake at the meeting in Auckland on June 2.
Chief executive Mark Robinson is anxious it be approved to bring economic muscle to match the northern hemisphere nations.
The deal, which has been divisive since first mooted nearly two years ago, has changed in nature.
The latest iteration would see Silver Lake put NZ$200 million (US$134 million) into a joint commercial entity, which would remain majority-owned by NZR.
Institutional investors would be given the opportunity to purchase a further NZ$100 million stake later this year, although New Zealand Rugby would retain ownership of around 90 percent.
However, it needs to be ratified by the country’s 26 provincial unions, who asked for more time to evaluate the proposal.
The unions previously approved a more substantial deal, selling a 12.5 per cent stake to Silver Lake for NZ$387.5 million but that proposal failed to win the backing of the Rugby Players’ Association, who feared it risked tarnishing the famed All Blacks’ legacy.
It has been reported that the unions want a cap removed on the funding they can receive from commercial income.
New Zealand Rugby described the deal as “transformational” for the cash-strapped body, ensuring financial stability and providing money for priorities such as women’s and grassroots rugby.
“This partnership presents rugby with an extraordinary opportunity to secure its future and unleash its true potential – we are truly excited by what we can achieve together with Silver Lake’s world-class capabilities,” Robinson said when the new proposal was announced in February.
At last month’s NZR annual meeting, Robinson said the delays in finalising the deal raised the risk of New Zealand falling behind the northern hemisphere unions who have already received lucrative private equity investment.