CVC Capital boosts rugby portfolio with 28% stake in Pro 14 league

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(Reuters) - CVC Capital Partners has acquired a 28% stake in the Pro 14 rugby league in a deal that could increase the private equity firm's influence in ongoing discussions to remodel the global rugby calendar.

The company already has a minority stake in England's Premiership Rugby, reported to be worth more than 200 million pounds ($243.46 million).

The Pro 14, which was owned by the Irish, Scottish and Welsh rugby unions, includes teams from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa.

Under the agreement, the Italian Rugby Federation will receive part of the investment and join Celtic Rugby DAC, the company that runs the league.

Financial details were not disclosed, but the BBC reported last year that CVC's stake was valued at about 120 million pounds.

"The partnership... will allow Pro 14 Rugby and the Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh rugby unions to continue to invest in the sport," CVC Capital said in a statement on Friday.

IRFU chief Philip Browne said the Irish union would net 30 million pounds from the deal, but could face revenue losses of 15 million to 20 million euros ($21.78 million) due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CVC Capital was also reported to be close to acquiring a stake in the Six Nations, though World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper expressed reservations, saying a commercial owner could end up making calls that are not in the sport's best interests.

Welsh Rugby Union CEO Martyn Phillips said CVC's investment would bring about a "sea change" in the Pro 14's ability to reach its full potential.

"This investment is great news... although we are under no illusions that COVID-19... will continue to have a significant impact... for some time," Phillips added.

(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)