CVC Capital Partners is in talks over a $ 600 million deal that will bring together men’s and women’s professional tennis calendars and allow the private equity firm to buy the sport.
Under the proposals, CVC will take a 15 percent stake in One Tennis, a new entity created to manage media and data rights for both trips, according to people familiar with the proposals, valued at $ 4 billion.
The Association of Tennis Professionals and the Women’s Tennis Association, the governing bodies of the tournaments, will remain as separate entities and will be in charge of sports decisions.
But they will coordinate programs so that male and female players play in more of the same events, as in the “majors” – the four elite tournaments including Wimbledon and the US Open that have a separate governing body.
If agreed, the deal would mark a first foray into tennis for CVC, a Luxembourg-based private equity group that has made a splash for sports businesses around the world, including in football, rugby , volleyball, basketball and car racing.
The company belonged to Formula 1 and MotoGP and acquired in Six Nations, Premiership Rugby and Pro 14 rugby tournaments and also the International Volleyball Federation. He has held talks to invest in Italy’s Serie A football league, the German Bundesliga and the San Antonio Spurs basketball team.
CVC’s recent strategy has been to try to gain minority stakes in leading-edge competitions in an effort to gain enough influence to take over the commercial management of sports leagues and tournaments and pool media rights packages to sell around the world.
CVC declined to comment.
The ATP tour consists of 64 tournaments in 31 countries, while the WTA, founded by Billie Jean King in 1973, rounds out more than 50.
Under the proposed agreement One Tennis manages the transfer rights for the tournaments of the two bodies, as well as the rights to sell data to the gaming companies.
The ATP has a contract with IMG to trade data while the WTA has an agreement with Stats Perform, both of which could be controlled by One Tennis if the deal goes ahead.
Mark Webster, chief executive of existing ATP sales and broadcast arm ATP Media, has been put in line to manage One Tennis, with ATP Media becoming part of the new entity, said a person familiar with the matter.
One of the people said an agreement could be accepted just this month. It aimed to create an entity that could eventually offer to manage the media and data rights of grand slam tournaments, they added.
The ATP and WTA did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the discussions, which were previously reported by Sky News.
Both organizations were forced to suspend tournaments last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Andrea Gaudenzi, president of the ATP, told the Financial Times last year that he was in favor uniting the ATP and the WTA. Roger Federer, who shares the record for twenty major titles, and Billie Jean King have also spoken out in favor of a merger.