Saracens set for major investment after agreeing takeover deal

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Saracens owner Nigel Wray has agreed to sell a controlling stake in the club to a consortium which plans to invest £32million to establish them as a global force.

The consortium, which is headed by Dominic Silvester, the chief executive of insurance group Enstar, also includes World Cup-winning captain and former Saracen Francois Pienaar.

A statement on Saracens’ official website said: “Saracens is delighted to announce that a consortium of investors has agreed terms to acquire a majority controlling stake, and that the club’s shareholders will invest significant new funds by means of a capital raise.

“The consortium comprises Dominic Silvester, chief executive officer of Enstar Group, a global insurance group; Neil Golding, the club’s chairman and a partner at Freshfields; Paul O’Shea, a director at Enstar; Francois Pienaar, a World Cup-winning captain and former Saracens player; Nick Leslau, chairman and chief executive of Prestbury Investment Holdings; and Marco V. Masotti, a partner at Paul Weiss and an owner of South Africa’s Sharks rugby team.

“The capital raise results in a total investment of GBP 32 million of new funds into the club. Aside from maintaining the club’s position at the top of the men’s game, the new funds will be used for a variety of other purposes, including completing the redevelopment of the West Stand; further investment in women’s sport; and the establishment of a high performance training centre.

“The consortium will form a new non-executive board to enhance the existing board. It will continue to be chaired by Neil Golding with Lucy Wray remaining as chief executive.”

Five-times Premiership champions Saracens, who boast England stars Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Mako and Billy Vunipola and Elliot Daly among their men’s squad, returned to the Gallagher Premiership for the start of the new season after a year in exile following their relegation in 2020 as a result of salary cap breaches.

Wray, who first invested in the club in 1995 and took full ownership in 2018, has been looking to reduce his stake for some time.

He said: “I have given my heart and soul to the club for more than two decades having chaired Saracens since the first days of professionalism. Sadly, I’m not getting any younger and I have always wanted to make sure that Saracens is in very safe hands for many future generations.

“To show our continued enthusiasm for the future of Saracens, I will be retaining a significant minority shareholding, albeit a passive one.”

Another former Saracen and England international, Maggie Alphonsi, is to join the club’s board in the wake of the takeover, which, the statement adds, is subject to “closing conditions including regulatory approval”.

Francois Pienaar
Francois Pienaar is a former Saracens player (Adam Butler/PA)

Silvester said: “The consortium members are making a long-term commitment to Saracens with the new funds used to maintain the club’s position at the top of the game for the future.

“We also have an exciting longer-term vision to make the club a global market leader both on and off the field, and we are well-placed to deliver on this with our wide-ranging international experience.

“We want to also personally thank Nigel for all he has done for modern rugby and player welfare, more than perhaps any other single person.

“It is our privilege to take Saracens on to a new chapter and we intend to be every bit as ambitious and pioneering as Nigel has been.”

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