Two Circles, the international digital-focused sports agency, has been acquired by UK private equity firm Charterhouse Capital Partners from US-based sports and entertainment investment firm Bruin Capital.
The deal is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2024 and the company will continue to be run by founder Gareth Balch and the existing management team after the takeover.
According to Sky News, the value of the deal is £250 million ($138 million).
Balch said: “Charterhouse’s interest in our business reflects the commitment our clients have made to embrace a fan-focused and technology-enabled future.
“We will continue to work with our clients to harness the possibilities of digitization and technology to grow the value of sport while nurturing the spirit and heritage that attracts hundreds of millions of fans and players to the games, teams, and competitions they love.
“This partnership with Charterhouse will enable Two Circles to do this in more places worldwide and importantly, to collaboratively identify and invest in the capabilities sports needs to thrive.”
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The agency works with sports rightholders to help generate extra revenue from attendance, media, and sponsorship, with fan data at the heart of its offering. Along with London, the firm has offices in Paris, Bern, Melbourne, New York, and Los Angeles.
It works with over 400 sports rights owners including the NFL, Formula 1, the International Cricket Council, UEFA, English soccer’s Premier League and Football Association, the Wimbledon tennis championships, FIBA, World Rugby, and men’s tennis’ ATP, as well as the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.
The agency has also invested in joint ventures with the DP World Tour, Ryder Cup Europe, FIBA, and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to help accelerate the commercial growth of their respective properties.
Founded by former athlete Balch in 2011, Two Circles was first acquired by GroupM, a subsidiary of advertising giant WPP, in 2015.
Bruin Capital then acquired 80% of the company in December 2019, allowing it to develop and expand. Other investments by Bruin include travel and hospitality firm On Location and video streaming technology firm Deltatre.
Since then, the company has undergone a period of global growth with the acquisitions of Australian technology company Codeware in January 2023, content agency LiveWire Sport in February 2022, ticketing hospitality firm Sports Ink in January 2021, and rights management business TRM Partners in November 2020.
Charterhouse, meanwhile, is a London-based investment fund that has interests in healthcare and consumer services including motoring giant AA and Saga, which sells holidays and insurance to the over-50s.
Charterhouse partner Chris Warren said: “At Charterhouse we identify technology-enabled services firms with highly differentiated expertise and back their management teams to become global leaders. Two Circles was a standout opportunity because of its data-driven focus, resilient profits, and growth in every year since it was founded in 2011.
“In a rapidly changing media landscape, sport has the potential to become more popular and valuable than ever before. We believe Two Circles is emerging as the first digitally native global sports group and will lead the next era for the sports industry to help its clients navigate the changes ahead and fulfill their potential.”