The South African Rugby Union is reportedly nearing a significant agreement with Ackerley Sports Group, poised to secure a R1.42 billion ($75 million) investment.

Expected to be finalized in May pending SARU members’ approval, the deal entails Ackerley’s investment in a business venture consolidating all current and future revenue-generating assets of the Springboks and SARU. The overarching aim is to enhance sponsorship, broadcasting, content, and match-day revenue streams. Notably, SARU’s portion of the proceeds will be allocated towards sustaining amateur rugby in South Africa. SARU had previously engaged in discussions with private equity firm CVC Capital Partners regarding potential investment opportunities.

Under the terms, SARU will retain majority ownership of the newly formed entity, while ASG will hold approximately a 20% stake. The post-transaction valuation of the deal is estimated at $375 million, as indicated by a source familiar with the matter.

Ackerley Sports Group specializes in investments within the sports sector, with a strategic focus on leagues, teams, venues, media, technology, and developmental prospects. In December, twin siblings Ted and Chris Ackerley inaugurated Ackerley Sports Group as an extension of their investment enterprise, Ackerley Partners, headquartered in Seattle. Their collaborator based in London, Timothy Kirkwood, assumes responsibility for managing the Springboks relationship.

Ted and Chris Ackerley
Ted and Chris Ackerley

“In almost any sporting domain worldwide, the Springboks’ enduring success stands out remarkably,” Kirkwood remarked in a recent phone conversation. “Yet, there’s a noticeable gap between their on-field achievements and their business performance.” Kirkwood further emphasizes the compelling valuation juxtaposed with professional teams in other sports.

The Ackerley family’s involvement in sports commenced with their father Barry, who acquired the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics in 1983, later adding the WNBA’s Seattle Storm. Subsequently, in 2001, he divested the clubs to Howard Schultz for $200 million. Ted and Chris ventured into sports investment with the Seattle Kraken expansion franchise and recently became investors in Leeds United Football Club through 49ers Enterprises, which assumed majority ownership. They also hold stakes in the Major League Rugby club Seattle Seawolves.