Everton in takeover talks with US-based SPAC



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Everton in takeover talks Image: Everton FC

The Premier League club Everton F.C. has reportedly held preliminary talks with a US-based special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) with regards to a takeover.

‘liverpoolecho’ stated that a SPAC led by Los Angeles-based producers Jeffrey Soros, the nephew of hedge fund tycoon George Soros, and Simon Horsman have held early talks over a potential deal through their Los Angeles Media Fund (LAMF) Global Ventures Corp vehicle, which counts former Everton Director Keith Harris as a special advisor.

The Everton Football Club is an English professional association football club based in Liverpool (UK) that competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football.

The Goodison Park is a football stadium in the Walton area of Liverpool, England, UK. It has been the home stadium of Premier League club Everton F.C. since its completion in 1892. Located in a residential area two miles North of the Liverpool City Centre, it has an all-seated capacity of 39,414.

‘liverpoolecho’ further stated that the SPAC, which raised $253m in its initial public offering (IPO) back in November 2021, is targeting a European football club but stresses that deliberations between the two parties are in their infancy. Everton declined to comment on the speculation.

Reports are also doing the rounds that US real estate mogul Maciek Kaminski had returned to the table for talks with ‘The Blues’ owner Farhad Moshiri over a takeover deal having been heavily linked during the Summer as part of a consortium that also included former Premier League club Manchester United F.C. head honcho Peter Kenyon and oil tycoon John Thornton. While Kaminski remains interested, there is no deal imminent, although investment in the stadium is also thought to be an option. Kenyon and Thornton are no longer part of the talks.

For LAMF Global Ventures Corp, their IPO came at a time when the SPAC market was particularly hot, something that has cooled considerably over the past 12 months. A number of SPACs have closed, handing back money to investors without making an acquisition. RedBall, the SPAC formed by now Serie A club A.C. Milan (Italy) owner Gerry Cardinale and baseball analytics guru and ‘Moneyball’ pioneer Billy Beane, closed operations during the Summer having failed to acquire a target in its two-year search. RedBall had initial dialog with the Premier League club Liverpool F.C. owners Fenway Sports Group over a 20 percent stake before pivoting to a $750m private investment from Cardinale’s RedBird Capital Partners in March 2021.

The SPACs are blank check companies that raise funds from investors via IPOs, with the investors having little knowledge of exactly what will be acquired aside from the industry where the SPAC will be seeking to acquire, or usually merge, with an existing private company, taking it public on the stock exchange.

There is a ticking clock from the IPO, however, with SPACs generally having a period of between 18 and 24 months to find a merger partner after raising money, having to return funds, held in trust accounts, to investors if they are unsuccessful. The LAMF SPAC still has time on its side. The LAMF SPAC was set up with the intention to focus on opportunities in media, entertainment and sports, as well as within e-commerce and technology.

Soros and Horsman created their Los Angeles Media Fund (LAMF) in 2012 and have used that business to invest in film, TV and theater projects on Broadway, including the 2019 TONY-winning revival of Oklahoma! The LAMF also founded Invent TV, which has several unscripted shows in production and Beyond Athlete Management, a sports agency, which represents numerous National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) players.

The Premier League has been an attractive option for US investors, aided further by the appreciation of the dollar against the pound. Many US investors also view the valuation of Premier League teams as favorable when compared to the values of teams across the major American sports markets.

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