Advent, Bertelsmann eye Sportfive sale


COLOGNE, Germany -- Private equity group Advent and Germany's Bertelsmann are close to a deal to sell off sports rights group Sportfive, according to sources close to the negotiations.

The sale, which is expected before the end of the year, could bring in up €1 billion ($1.25 billion) for the group, which controls the rights to the 2008 European soccer championships as well those to the top Spanish and Italian leagues and several leading German squads.

Sources near Advent, however, say the price tag for Sportfive is likely to be closer to €750 million ($938 million). That would still mean a tidy profit for Advent, which acquired a 65% stake in Sportfive from Bertelsmann and Vivendi in 2004. At the time, the entire company was valued at €600 million. Bertelsmann is a minority partner in Sportfive, with 25% of the company's shares.

According to an article in German daily the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung, investment groups Hellman & Friedman, BC Partners, Permira and Providence Equity and doing due diligence on Sportfive. The bidding is expected to start early next month.