N.J. Hedge Fund Bets On European Football

Nov 26 2007 | 2:00am ET

One New Jersey hedge fund firm is hoping to score big on European football. MarCap recently upped its stake in two sports communications companies controlled by the once powerful media mogul Leo Kirch. The hedge fund has taken a 5% interest in EM.Sport Media and a 9% interest in Highlight Communications.

MarCap’s investments follow news that the 81-year-old Kirch—a major shareholder in both companies—is staging a comeback and plans to merge the two entities to create a mammoth sports rights and production firm.

Earlier this year, Kirch agreed to sell his 36.4% stake in Highlight to EM.Sport Media for approximately $230 million. In return, Kirch received an 11.5% stake in EM.Sport and $170 million in cash. Kirch is now EM.Sport’s biggest shareholder, and EM.Sport is the largest shareholder in Highlight. MarCap’s investment should help Kirch refinance the $4.3 billion rights deal he has to market Germany’s top soccer league, Bundesliga, from 2009 to 2015.
 
“Kirch is building a powerful sports company. That’s why we’re strengthening our investments,” David Marcus, CEO of MarCap, told German business daily Handelsblatt. "In the communications industry there is a huge demand for soccer, which allows for many creative possibilities in rights exploitation."


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