Saturday, October 16 2021

777 Partners, a Miami-based alternative investment firm, has acquired full ownership of Italy’s oldest professional soccer team, Genoa Cricket and Football Club. The private equity firm is said to have bought the club for $150 million at its enterprise value, according to sources close to the deal.

Established in 1893, Genoa C.F.C. plays in Italy’s top league, Serie A, and has won the Italian championship nine times. The 128-year-old club finished in 11th place in the 2020-21 season.

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The investment was led by Josh Wander and Steve Pasko, the founders of 777 Partners, as well as Juan Arciniegas, the managing director who oversees the firm’s sports, media and entertainment investments, and Andres Blazquez, the operating partner who helps manage the firm’s soccer investments.

“As you know we have been looking at sports teams for a long time,” Arciniegas told Sportico. “We have a significant stake in [LaLiga’s] Sevilla. We bought the London Lions [basketball team]. Italy was an attractive market. And Genoa became top for us as an acquisition target.”

In addition to such merits as the team carrying the name of Italy’s sixth-largest city, Arciniegas said: “It carries an incredible amount of tradition. It was just the perfect team for us to get involved in.”

The 777 team will inject fresh capital into the club and will assume certain related liabilities. It will also use its expertise in the sports, media and entertainment industries to help further commercialize the operations of the club. Genoa C.F.C.’s previous owner, Enrico Preziosi, will remain on the board of directors, while CEO Alessandro Zarbano will continue to run the day-to-day operations. “We plan to build the project for the medium and long term,” Arciniegas said.

Founded in 2015, 777 Partners owns a 15% stake in Sevilla FC, currently seventh in Spain’s LaLiga, as well as the London Lions, the capital’s only team in the British Basketball League. The firm’s sports, media and entertainment portfolio also includes Fanatiz, a streaming service that distributes live sports for European and Hispanic audiences in 90-plus countries; 1190 Sports, which provides management and commercialization of sports rights; Atalanta Media, the first-ever dedicated distribution, engagement and community platform for women’s soccer; and Uplay, a Canadian community service, academics and basketball platform.

While the Genoa project is a top priority, the firm continues to look for opportunities in Europe and South America. “Some of these leagues are changing their denomination to make it easier to invest in them,” Arciniegas said. “Some countries still are off-limits from outside investors, but Uruguay and Brazil recently made the changes to denominations. I think there are more and more opportunities opening up in Latin America that we are definitely very interested in evaluating.”

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