H.I.G Capital, the US-based investment firm, is reportedly mulling a sale of Sportfive, three years after taking full control of the international sports marketing agency.
Three people familiar with the matter told news outlet Reuters that H.I.G has hired global financial services firm Citi to explore a sale of the business now the company is performing well, with the US company keen to capitalize on its success.
A source said deliberations are at an early stage, with a sale potentially on the cards next year unless markets deteriorate.
Headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, Sportfive engages with brands, rights holders, media platforms, and fans, boasting a network of over 1,200 local experts based in 15 countries and working across sports including soccer, golf, esports, motorsport, handball, tennis, and American football.
The company manages media rights for high-profile events including US soccer's United Soccer League, the organizer of the second and third-tier North American men’s competitions, World Aquatics, and the World Weightlifting Championships. It also oversees sponsorships for the French Handball Federation.
Other Sportfive clients include German soccer clubs Borussia Dortmund, Hertha Berlin, VFB Stuttgart, Augsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Bayer Leverkusen, as well as French side Lyon.
In mid-September, Sportfive extended its virtual advertising partnership with sports media and technology company Supponor.
Reports of the potential sale come three years after H.I.G took full control of Sportfive after acquiring the 24.9% stake that was still held by French media company Lagadere.
H.I.G. Capital, which specializes in private equity and asset management, became the majority owner of the former Lagardere Sports business when it bought a 75.1% holding in a deal that was concluded in January 2020, and valued it at €110 million (then $119 million).
The company was subsequently rebranded as Sportfive, the same name as the firm that had been acquired by Lagardere back in 2006 for €865 million, with Stefan Felsing, who had been a senior figure at the original operation, returning as chief executive.
The sale by Lagadere reflected the desire of that French company to focus on its core publishing and travel retail divisions.
Sportfive and fellow agencies IEC in Sports and World Sport Group were subsumed under the Lagardere Sports name in 2015.
Since its full takeover by H.I.G, Sportfive has acquired UK-based events management and consultant firm Golf Management in 2021 and marketing specialists Wolfe Solutions in 2022.