The Percassi family, at the head of an empire that ranges from real estate to retail (in particular with Kiko cosmetics) and sport, announced over the last weekend the signing of the agreement for the sale of 47.3% stake of the Atalanta soccer team to a club deal of private investors, led by Stephen Pagliuca, managing partner and co-owner of the US basketball team Boston Celtics since 2002, as well as co-chairman of Bain Capital (see the press release here). There is talk of an evaluation of Atalanta’s entire capital exceeding 400 million euros.
A few days ago, however, rumors were that the Percassi’s were about to sign an agreement for the sale of an 85% stake of the club’s capital to KKR, which, however, denied immediately afterwards.
In detail, the operation officially announced by the Bergamo-based football team provides that the investors club deal will purchase a 55% stake of the capital of La Dea srl, the parent company that controls 86% of Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio spa, while the Percassi family will remain the owner of the other 45%. The remaining 14% of Atalanta BC, on the other hand, is 5.33% owned by Radici Partecipazioni spa, part of the RadiciGroup, a polyamides, synthetic fibers and technopolymers group based in Bergamo, which has long been a club’s sponsor. Another 5.33% is owned by Magica srl, which is headed by Roberto Selini, chairman of Selini Group, specialized in sales, rental and assistance for forklifts, lifting, tools and automation, in turn a sponsor of the team; while the rest of Atalanta’s capital is owned by approximately 160 minority shareholders.
The Percassi family will remain the main single shareholder and governance will be the expression of a partnership equal: Antonio and Luca Percassi will continue to hold the position of chairman and ceo of Atalanta respectively, while Stephen Pagliuca will be appointed co-chairman of the club.
The Percassi family was assisted by BofA Securities as financial advisor, by Studio Gatti Pavesi Bianchi Ludovici as legal advisor and by Deloitte as business advisor. The group of investors was advised by Legance and Kirkland & Ellis as legal advisors, Alvarez & Marsal as commercial and financial advisor and Pirola, Zei, Pennuto & Partners as tax advisor.
Unlike most of the other football teams, Atalanta in 2020 did not suffer the negative impact of the lockdown on the accounts, quite the contrary. In fact, the club closed its consolidated financial statements at 31 December 2020 with a net increase in production value to 242 million euros from 118.6 million in the previous year, driven by revenues from trading of players’ registration rights (88,9 millions, of which 68.5 millions in capital gains) and from TV rights (117 millions, thanks to the participation of the Bergamo-based club in the UEFA Champions League), while obviously stadium ticket sales dropped to 6.7 millions (from 13, 5 millions), with a net profit of 51.7 millions from 26.5 millions at the end of 2019. As for the operating profit, the ebitda was 133.6 million euros (from 79.9 millions), while on the of debt, the net financial position was positive for 42.1 million (see here the Leanus report with the reclassified financial statements, after registering for free).
And that’s not all, because that financial situation, as in the 2020 FY statements, also includes the refinancing of the debt of the subsidiary Stadio Atalanta srl in relation to the “project for the restructuring of the Bergamo stadium, whose total planned investment is approximately 54 million euros (including the acquisition of the property): the new loan was subscribed by a pool of banks headed by Banca Intesa Sanpaolo and the participation of the Istituto per il Credito Sportivo. The investment line granted to the subsidiary amounts to 35 million euros to which is added the 5 million VAT line “.
The note released by Atalanta specifies that “the group of new investors includes leading professionals with in-depth experience in the football and sport sectors in general. Also for this reason, the partnership aims to strengthen the company and team, with the aim of achieving a further improvement in sporting and economic results, in addition to the considerable ones achieved so far. The commitment is to guarantee the club an even more international future, increasing the brand’s notoriety outside the European borders, expanding the network of talents to which Atalanta has access and opening the doors to new opportunities for commercial collaborations as well as the use of innovative technologies for the management, sporting and financial, of the club “.
Antonio Percassi, chairman of Atalanta, commented: “Great challenges await us and my belief is that the partnership with such high-profile investors will only accelerate our growth path”. Stephen Pagliuca, future co-chairman of Atalanta, added: “We believe that the Percassi family has built very solid foundations on which to work together for a global strengthening of the brand, with the aim of fostering further diversification and revenue growth, allowing to the club to become increasingly competitive on an Italian and international scale “.
Italian football seems to have great appeal to US investors. In fact, last December 2021 Robert Lewis and John Aiello of JRL Investment Partners LLC together with a group of entrepreneurs from overseas, acquired 60% of Cesena FC (see here a previous article by BeBeez). Last September Genoa Calcio was sold to the US fund 777 Partners, based in Miami and founded in 2015 by Steven W. Pasko and Josh Wander (see here a previous article by BeBeez). The previous month a group of investors led by the Italian-American magnate Joseph Tacopina bought Spal (acronym for Società Polisportiva Ars et Labor), the first professional football club in the city of Ferrara (see here a previous article by BeBeez). Last February the tycoon Robert Platek acquired Spezia Calcio from the Volpi family (see here a previous article by BeBeez). Less than a month earlier Alex Knaster, founder of Pamplona Capital, had taken over 75% of Pisa Calcio from the Ricci and Paletti families (see here a previous article by BeBeez). In September 2020 the Krause group had acquired 90% of Parma Calcio from a group of Parma entrepreneurs including Guido Barilla and Gianpaolo Dallara (see here a previous article by BeBeez). Leading the way to this trend was Madison Avenue Sports and Entertainment (MadAve) together with an American consortium, led by Thomas DiBenedetto and James Pallotta, which in 2011 had taken control of AS Roma, then sold in 2020 to the Friedkin family (see here a previous article by BeBeez). All without forgetting that since June 2019 the owner of Mediacom, the Italian-American Rocco Commisso, is the owner of Fiorentina, acquired for an estimated amount of between 150 and 170 million dollars. And then of course there is the Elliott fund, which has been controlling AC Milan since July 2018 (see here a previous article by BeBeez). While Hong Kong-based private equity firm Lion Rock bought a 31% stake in FC Inter in January 2019 from Indonesian entrepreneur Erick Thoir (si veda altro articolo di BeBeez) and Oaktree Capital Management financed the club with 275 million euros of direct lending in May 2021 (see here a previous article by BeBeez).