US sports fund MVM Holdings has bought a controlling interest in the Sharks, proclaiming to make the South African franchise a ‘global force’.
A consortium has finalised a deal to acquire a 51 per cent stake in the four-time Super Rugby finalists.
Marco Masotti, a Durban-born attorney and life-long fan, led the negotiations with the Sharks but the Stormers had orignally been the consortium’s first target.
But talks between MVM Holdings and Western Province Rugby failed to gain ground, and led the US firm to look east to the Sharks.
World-renowned rap music artist Jay Z is set to be tied to the deal as the founder of Roc Nation, the entertainment management company that will fire up a marketing campaign to increase the Sharks’ outreach.
A statement from the Sharks reads: “In a move designed to bolster The Sharks’ ambitions of becoming a global force in world rugby, the KwaZulu-Natal franchise has welcomed a dynamic, MVM Holdings, an international investment consortium spearheaded by Marco Masotti, has entered into an agreement to purchase a 51 percent majority stake in The Sharks.”
“With the international rugby landscape poised to undergo transformational change in the coming years, investors have identified rugby as an attractive opportunity and invested in some of Europe’s leading rugby competitions.
“It is expected that the enlarged PRO16 competition will accelerate this trend.
“Navigation of the fast-changing rugby business requires a diverse and strong shareholder group who can implement a strategic plan and provide the resources to ensure that The Sharks become the premier rugby brand in the world.”
The Sharks had topped the Super Rugby standings and the SA Conference before the pandemic led to the 2020 campaign being abandoned.
“The Sharks have a deep and wonderful history that can translate into a formidable global rugby brand.” Masotti said. “Our investment is designed to facilitate the expansion of the franchise through deep relationships with business people, financing sources and other sporting codes. We believe that rugby provides a unique platform for character and community building. We intend to shine a global light on the city of Durban and create opportunities for players from diverse backgrounds to become international stars.”