American consortium buys controlling share in Sharks after failed Stormers attempt
DURBAN - In what will be regarded as a ground-breaking development for sport in South Africa, an American consortium has bought a controlling share in the Sharks rugby team.
MVM Holdings, headed by New York attorney Marco Masotti, has concluded a deal with the Durban franchise that will see millions of dollars invested into rugby in KZN and South Africa in general although the tradeoff for the Sharks is that Masotti and his investors will command 51 percent control in the boardroom, eclipsing the combined share previously enjoyed by the Sharks and their partners SuperSport.
While the conservative will worry that the Sharks have sold off the family silver, the realists will see this financial injection as a massive positive and an opportunity for growth under the guidance of American investors who are also heavily involved in professional sport in the USA, including basketball, ice hockey, and American football.
In these unprecedented times for sport in the world, with Covid-19 challenges stressing sport incalculably, it is perhaps an inspired decision by the Sharks to welcome investment when most sports are holding out their begging bowls.
Indeed, MVM Holdings first knocked on the door of the Stormers/Western Province but were unable to conclude a deal.
Masotti, speaking to Independent Media from New York, said that he then turned to the Sharks, his personal favourite rugby team having grown up in Amanzimtoti on the KZN south coast before studying law at The University of Natal.
“The response from (Sharks CEO) Eduard Coetzee was incredible,” Masotti said. “The deal was concluded very quickly. What impressed us is that the Sharks are open-minded and hungry to embrace change and grow into the future, and we have so many exciting plans for developing the brand and growing the sport.”
Masotti said that among his first plans is to “put dollars into the business to help it through Covid and make exciting player acquisitions.”
Tellingly, Masotti added: “I intend to spend money to make money.”
While, it is known that MVN Holdings approached Western Province with an offer of $6-million dollars, it is unknown what amount was agreed to with the Sharks.
Neither Masotti nor the Sharks are willing to discuss figures at this stage.
Among Masotti’s partners is world-famous entrepreneur Michael Yormark of Roc Nation, the marketing company founded by rapper Jay-Z and which is a leader in the world of marketing in the USA.
I asked Masotti what, in a nutshell, the Americans plan to do with the Sharks.
“Think big and outside of the box!” he said. “But we will start with community building. The relationship between one of our investors in Vincent Mai (formerly of the Eastern Cape and now an investment tycoon in the USA) and Siya Kolisi is a special one.
“While we are obviously going to be based in Durban, we regard growing rugby in the Eastern Cape as a priority.”