Massimo Ferrero, chairman and owner of Italy’s Sampdoria Calcio, a Series A soccer team, is playing a 100 million euros game. This is in fact the figure that he is said to have asked to the hedge funds that are racing to grab the Genoa-based company.
On the one hand, there is the US hedge fund York Capital Management, indirectly supported by former top player Gianluca Vialli, and advised as for the financial issues for the due diligence by EY; while on the other side there is the British fund Ufp Aquilor Capital, advised by Gianni Origoni Grippo Cappelli law firm. Rumors are that York could appoint Mr. Vialli as the new chairman of Sampdoria Calcio, even though Vialli is in first line for the role of head of the National delegation, which was offered by the FIGC chairman, Gabriele Gravina.
Mr. Ferrero bought Sampdoria Calcio from the Garrone family, owner of ERG oil&energy Milan-listed company, in June 2014, when the soccer team used to burn 30-40 million euros of cash per year. For this reason Mr. Ferrero had not paid anything to the Garrones and indeed had made them pay a rich badwill. According to what was reconstructed by La Gazzetta dello Sport in July 2015, once the company and its parent company, Sport Spettacolo Holding, had published the figures for FY 2014, the former owner Garrone family, through its San Quirico holding company, poured into Sampdoria Calcio a good 62.5 million euro. Adding the 2.9 million injected into the company by the former parent Sampdoria Holding before the sale, we then reach atotal of 65.4 million euros: 36.5 million directly in the funds of the Calcio Sampdoria Union and 28.9 million in the Sport’s capital account Entertainment show.
To the advantage of York there would be the fact that the fund would like to build a stadium owned by Samp. At least this is the hypothesis circulated by the Corriere dello Sport. Currently Sampdoria, together with the other Genoa-based soccer team, Genoa Calcio, is discussing the details with the Municipality of Genoa for a ninety-year concession for the Luigi Ferraris plant, which however needs substantial investments for restructuring. During the week, however, a new meeting between the parties is scheduled in London. Meanwhile, York Capital is also negotiating to take over Palermo Calcio, the Sicily-based soccer team
York Capital founder Jamie Dinan is not new at investing in sports compaanies. In particular, in July 2014 he invested in the Milwaukee Bucks, an NBA team, along with Marc Lasry, one of the partners of the Avenue Capital fund, and Wesley Robert Edens, founder of Fortress (seeCNBC)).
Returning to Sampdoria Calcio, at the end of November 2018 the company itself published its financial statements numbers, replying to the news of the seizure of assets for 2.6 million to Mr. Ferrero, following an investigation by the Italian fiscal police (Guardia di Finanza) about alleged false invoices and embezzlement in the sale of Obiang player to West Ham (see the press release here).
In detail, the company realized profits of 3.23 million euros in 2016 and 9.29 million in 2017 and in both years, at the end of the financial year, it was decided not to distribute the profits to shareholders, in order to capitalize the company. As for 2018, the company will close the balance sheet surplus, then the third consecutive, “a figure that confirms that the company has embarked on a virtuous path in contrast with the recent past, just think that in the 5 years preceding the current management the Company had accumulated losses of over 100 million “.
Furthermore, from December 31, 2014 to September 30, 2018, the company sustained investments in infrastructures amounting to 16.5 million euros, mainly to improve the Bogliasco sports center, creating modern facilities for the first team, for the youth sector and equipping the Academy of a previously owned Residence never existed. Further investments are already planned for around 10 million euros.
Finally, the note reads, “the accounting assets of the players owned by the company rose from around 36.7 million euros (at 31 December 2014) to 78.5 million euros at 30 September 2018, confirming the fact that in these years the company has not lost value but has increased its assets. The market value of the rose is significantly higher and, in the last 4 years, 165 million euro have been invested for the acquisition of players’ sports rights “.