London (AFP) – The Six Nations has agreed to sell 15 percent of its commercial arm to Formula One’s former owners CVC for £300 million ($370 million), The Times reported on Tuesday.
The Six Nations would not confirm the sale had been agreed, saying only it has “has agreed to enter into an exclusive period of negotiation with an external investor partner”.
CVC — who last December acquired a reported 27 percent stake worth more than £200 million in rugby’s English Premiership — had been reported by the BBC in March to have bid for a 30 percent share for the Six Nations, who organise the northern hemisphere’s championship.
“Six Nations believes that investment in rugby football is vital for the long-term future of our game and this belief is central in our decision to enter into this period of negotiation,” the Six Nations said in a statement.
“Six Nations, together with its constituent unions and federations, has agreed to enter into an exclusive period of negotiation with an external investor partner.
“As these negotiations are confidential and commercially sensitive, Six Nations will not be making any further comment.”
The Six Nations unions — England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and France — have been in talks for almost two years over pooling their commercial interests.
According to The Times, private equity firm CVC would own a share not only of the Six Nations Championship, but also the autumn Tests — when the southern hemisphere powerhouses tour — and summer tours when the likes of England and Ireland go south.
All sides expect the deal to be completed after the World Cup in Japan.
According to the paper CVC are also set to finalise a deal for the Pro14 too — offering £115 million for 27 percent of the tournament that pits Welsh, Scottish, South African, Irish and Italian clubs against each other.
Should the deals be completed it will leave the French Top 14 as the only major European league to be independent of CVC.
The ramifications for the purchasing of the commercial arm will have most impact in TV rights.
The Six Nations is presently free to air in Britain — the BBC and ITV share the matches — but Amazon had been rumoured to be circling earlier in the year when CVC’s interest first became public.
However, the perils of going to only pay-per-view can be seen in CVC’s stewardship of Formula One, with money prioritised ahead of viewing figures.