Selling off controlling stake a courageous move by the Sharks
DURBAN - The Sharks have rocked the South African sporting world by selling a controlling share in their team to an American consortium of investors.
While not everyone will be happy that the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union no longer formally owns their team, progressive thinkers will be thrilled that the Sharks are taking on change rather than running away from it.
MVM Holdings, headed by a former KZN man in New York attorney Marco Masotti, is going to pump millions of dollars into rugby in KZN and SA rugby in general, and surely this can't be a bad thing given that sport is suffering immensely in these incredibly challenging times of Covid-19.
Some critics in Durban will feel that selling off a controlling share of 51% to “outsiders” is akin to selling off the family silver, but realists will see this financial injection as an opportunity for growth under the guidance of American investors who will add value with their significant experience in professional sport in the United States, including basketball, ice hockey and American football.
Frankly, I believe that it is a courageous and correct decision by the Sharks to welcome investment when most sports fairly soon could be holding out their begging bowls.
It is interesting, to say the least, that the Sharks jumped at this offer from a company that openly first courted the Stormers/Western Province, but after protracted negotiations, the parties could not conclude a deal.
Masotti, speaking to IOL Sport from New York, said that he then turned to the Sharks, his personal favourite rugby team having been schooled at Amanzimtoti High School on the KZN south coast, before studying law at the University of Natal.
“The response from (Sharks chief executive) 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 his first effort will be 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 Province with an offer of $6million, it is unknown what amount was agreed to with the Sharks.
Neither Masotti nor the Sharks are willing to discuss figures at this stage.
Brian Van Zyl, the newly-elected president of the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union, expressed confidence that the partnership has come at the right time and with the right partners for the Sharks.
“In all our dealings with Marco Masotti, it was abundantly clear that his consortium, together with SuperSport, will bring not only greater commercial savviness but also international ties that will result in the Sharks becoming one of the most recognised global sports brands,” Van Zyl said.