Dec 20, 2022
Milwaukee Bucks Co-Owner Backs Takeover of Lyon Football Club
(Bloomberg) -- Jamie Dinan, hedge fund manager and co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team, has become the latest US investor to venture into European football.
Iconic Sports, an investment firm co-run by Dinan, backed John Textor’s purchase of French football club Olympique Lyonnais, according to a statement on Tuesday. Iconic will take a stake in Eagle Football Holdings LLC, the investment vehicle through which Textor is buying the Ligue 1 team.
Textor agreed the takeover in June, only to be beset by delays linked to financing. The deal, which values Lyon at about €800 million ($852 million), is now going through after Textor secured the backing of other US-based investors including Gordon Rubenstein, head of Raine Group’s venture capital arm, and Jean-Pierre Conte, chairman of San Francisco-based private equity firm Genstar Capital. Investment firm Ares Management Corp. has also bought into Eagle Football, according to the statement.
Dinan is a well-known figure in New York finance. He founded Manhattan-based hedge fund York Capital Management in the early 1990s, having previously worked in investment banking at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. Dinan took a stake in the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014. Iconic invests in recognizable sports businesses.
Lyon is one of France’s most successful clubs. Its men’s team has won seven Ligue 1 championships, while its women’s team has won the Division 1 title 15 times, according to its website.
“The ownership experience of both Iconic Sports and Ares in global professional sports, including football, means they bring much more than just capital to our family of clubs,” Textor said in the statement.
US financiers have been flooding into European football, drawn by the sport’s growth potential and lower valuations compared with sports franchises back home. A proponent of the so-called multi-club model, Textor has spent quickly to build a global football stable that includes English Premier League team Crystal Palace FC, Brazilian club Botafogo and Belgium’s RWD Molenbeek.
Iconic is a partnership between Dinan, Alexander Knaster, founder of Pamplona Capital, Edward Eisler, founder of Eisler Capital, and London-based sports advisory firm Tifosy Capital & Advisory.
(Updates with detail on Lyon’s trophies in fifth paragraph. An earlier version of this story corrected the full name of the Iconic entity acquiring a stake in Eagle Football in second paragraph.)
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