New Zealand’s rugby union players have proposed an alternative source of funding to the offer made by US private equity firm Silver Lake to buy a minority stake in the sport’s national governing body.
The New Zealand Rugby Players' Association sent a memo to New Zealand Rugby to suggest the sale of a 5 per cent stake in its revenue generating assets through an initial public offering on the country’s stock market.
NZRPA commissioned investment company Forsyth Barr to present an alternate capital raising option. David Kirk, the president of the players’ union, is the firm’s chairman.
The memo states that "raising a significant amount of private capital through an NZX-listed Initial Public Offer at a higher valuation than that offered by Silver Lake is a highly achievable option for NZR".
Forsyth Barr’s valuation of NZR’s commercial rights is between NZ$3.4 billion ($2.4 million) and NZ$3.8 billion, higher than the Silver Lake valuation of NZ$3.1 billion.
However, NZR chief executive Mark Robinson criticised the memo for having leaked confidential information without consent, a breach of trust, and as an attempt to sabotage the Silver Lake proposal.
Robinson said he was "shocked and disappointed" that NZRPA chairman Rob Nichol "has shared another counter proposal with media before sharing it with New Zealand Rugby".
He told New Zealand website Stuff: "NZR has no desire to continue to play out an ill-informed 'my model is better than yours' debate – nor do we think the public like it – and we would have rather continued to constructively negotiate with Rob Nichol and his board which we have made clear.
"Through doing this, the NZRPA leadership has unilaterally taken a decision to attempt to destroy the Silver Lake deal – and the incredible financial and capability outcomes it would provide for all of rugby.
"We are sorry, that for the players, their own union has put them in this position where the greatest opportunity for the future of all of Rugby in New Zealand could be lost."
NZR recently received unanimous support from the provincial unions for the NZ$387 million agreement with Silver Lake to go ahead.
Under the proposal, the firm would acquire a 12.5 per cent stake in a new commercial subsidiary, but it requires the support of the NZRPA, which has so far been resistant.
At a recent annual general meeting, all 26 provincial unions and the Maori Rugby Board approved the investment plan, with only 50 per cent backing having been required.
But NZRPA, which includes various prominent All Blacks players, is opposed to the controversial deal and believes a public offering would represent a more viable option.
Meanwhile, RugbyPass, the global over-the-top digital media service owned by Sky New Zealand, will stream this year’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition on a new platform in partnership with NZR and Rugby Australia.
The service, which launched today, will be the exclusive home of the competition in over 60 countries, including the UK and Ireland.
Through the tie-up between RugbyPass, NZR and RA, rugby fans will have live streaming access to all 26 matches across five rounds and the final.
The new OTT service will feature both the New Zealand and Australian Super Rugby teams with content to include live matches, full replays, highlights and shoulder programming.