Sharks test the waters as US consortium takes control

The Sharks have managed to secure financial backing from US consortium MVM Holdings, in a deal which is expected to add extra bite to the Durban-based franchise. MVM Holdings, led by Marco Masotti, had been in talks with Western Province Rugby in a deal worth around R100m for a controlling stake in the franchise. The deal seemed a no-brainer for WP given the the financial distress the union finds itself in, but discussions ceased in the latter part of 2020. And it seems Western Province’s loss is the Sharks gain, as the investment firm have experience and expertise within the sporting arena, with financial interests in basketball, ice hockey and American football. Masotti has made his intentions clear, saying “I intend to spend money to make money”, signalling speculation that the franchise is on the hunt for player acquisitions, one of which being Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi. This deal could be a focal point for South African rugby franchises, as private-equity like investment in rugby is becoming increasingly attractive from a commercial and financial perspective. – Justin Rowe-Roberts

US consortium buys majority stake in South African rugby team

By Derek Alberts

(Bloomberg) – New York-based MVM Holdings LLC became the first US company to invest in South African rugby when it took a majority stake in The Sharks franchise.

MVM, an investment consortium headed by lawyer Marco Masotti, entered into an agreement to purchase 51% of The Sharks, based in the Indian Ocean city of Durban, the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union said in a statement on its website on Thursday. The union and Supersport International will retain the remaining 49%, according to the statement, which didn’t give details on the terms of the deal.

The Sharks won South Africa’s provincial championship three times in the past decade, most recently in 2018. The team will be one of four South African franchises taking part in the Pro16 league together with top teams from Scotland, Wales and Ireland this year.

South Africa’s national rugby team is the current world champion after it beat England in the finals of the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019. The US qualified for that event for the first time since it started in 1991.

Masotti was in talks with the Western Province Rugby Union in Cape Town last year, but they fell through without an agreement, news website Netwerk24 reported in July.

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