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Lagardère in $ 1.1 billion buyout of Sportfive

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MUMBAI : French conglomerate Lagardère SCA, which has interests ranging from media (mainly publishing) to defence, has announced it is acquiring Sportfive, the no.1 in European football marketing and media rights, for an enterprise value of €865 million ($1.1 billion).

This acquisition, which will take place once clearance has been obtained from the European competition authorities, is Lagardère’s first move into the international sports rights trading and agency market. It is in line with Lagardère’s long-term strategy of increasing its presence in exclusive-access media content with high growth potential.

According to a statement issued by the company, the Sportfive deal is a logical progression from its expansion into the sports industry over the past three years, and the newly-acquired business will benefit from the support of Lagardère’s international media-buying activities.

Sportfive acts as a partner to sporting bodies and clubs, helping them to extract maximum value from their rights. These rights include media rights, which are bought by TV broadcasters and other content-providers (currently via the Internet and mobile phones), and marketing rights, which enable advertisers to reach the public by buying space in a range of media (team shirts, panel advertising at grounds, stadium sponsorship, etc), thereby associating their brand image with football federations, leagues, clubs or sporting events.

At present, Sportfive is involved primarily in football, the most highly-developed and attractive sports market in the world.With a rights portfolio embracing over 250 clubs, 50 of Europe’s principal football federations and leagues, and media rights for prestigious international football tournaments like Euro 2008 and the African Cup of Nations, Sportfive is the unchallenged market leader.

Sportfive operates across the five continents via a network of 11 offices. For 2006, the company is forecasting revenues of €526 million, EBITDA of €85 million and EBITA of €55 million. The principal shareholders of Sportfive are Advent International, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and RTL Group.Lagardère was advised by Calyon, Goetzpartners, Ernst & Young (Transaction Advisory Services) and Clifford Chance.

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