Providence Equity Partners Sells Back Share of Soccer United Marketing

Soccer United Marketing

There has been a shakeup in the ownership of Soccer United Marketing, the media and marketing arm of MLS. In a transaction announced on Monday, Providence Equity Partners and MLS revealed that SUM had repurchased Providence’s 25% stake. 

Providence Equity Partners had been the lone outside investor in SUM, and reportedly paid $150 million for its share back in 2012. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed in the announcement, but both sides expressed satisfaction with their relationship.

“It has been an honor supporting MLS and SUM’s remarkable growth over the past five years,” Jonathan Nelson, founder and CEO of Providence, said in a statement. “By combining the most popular sport in the world with the largest media market in the world, we knew MLS had a unique opportunity. Don, his team, and the ownership group have exceeded all expectations in driving the league’s growth in teams, attendance, viewership, and sponsors – all while investing in the quality of the game and the experience for fans. With its solid financial footing and growth trajectory continuing, we expect MLS and SUM to keep on exceeding expectations, and we wish them great success.”

“Major League Soccer has seen tremendous growth since 2012,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “We would like to thank Jonathan and his team at Providence for their support and contributions over the last five years. We are a healthier and stronger business because of their investment.”

In a story that reported that Providence had tripled its initial investment in SUM, Bloomberg detailed the financial implications of the deal:

By taking complete ownership of SUM, the league and its owners will no longer have to share the profits generated by the buying and selling of broadcast rights and corporate sponsorships, which are rising along with the popularity of soccer, and particularly MLS.

The transaction comes as MLS moves forward with plans to expand the league to 28 teams in the coming years, as 12 groups submitted proposals to the circuit earlier this year.

Image courtesy MLS.

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