Lagardere buys Sportfive in $1.1 billion deal

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PARIS -- French media group Lagardere SCA has agreed to purchase top European sports agency Sportfive for an enterprise value of €865 million ($1.1 billion).

The acquisition, which will be finalized upon approval from the European antitrust authorities, continues Lagardere's expansion into the sports industry.

The expansion over the past three years aims to increase the company's presence in "exclusive-access media content with high growth potential," the Paris-based company said Monday in a statement.

Sportfive, a European manager of TV sports broadcasting rights and partner to major sporting bodies and clubs, was put up for sale by its principal shareholders: RTL Group, private equity group Advent International and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners.

On Monday, RTL confirmed the sale, saying it was divesting itself of its entire 25% Sportfive stake. The sale should free up RTL capital for a potential bid for U.K. channel ITV.

Sportfive manages the rights of more than 250 clubs, including 50 of Europe's principal soccer leagues in addition to the broadcasting rights to some of the world's most high-profile sporting events including the Euro 2008 and the African Cup of Nations.

Established in 2001 with headquarters in Hamburg and Paris, Sportfive forecasts revenues of €526 million ($675.4 million) in 2006, EBITA earnings of €55 million ($70.6 million).

Scott Roxborough in Germany contributed to this report.
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