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Ex-Goldman banker’s buyout group snaps up French Soccer club Toulouse

RedBird Capital Partners on Monday snapped up an 85% stake in French soccer club Toulouse, after owner Olivier Sadran’s sold his stake to the U.S. investment group amid the club’s worst losing streak in its history.

As part of the deal, Sadran will step down from his role as president, while remaining a member of the board of directors. He will also retain a 15% stake in the club. The price wasn’t disclosed.

Damien Comolli, who previously held senior management roles at various clubs throughout Europe, including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Fenerbahçe, will replace Sadran immediately.

Founded by longtime Goldman Sachs banker Gerald Cardinale in 2014, RedBird has more than $4 billion of equity under management. RedBird has so far raised $1.1 billion for its latest growth equity fund, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

RedBird’s investment partners have included the New York Yankees, the National Football League, and the Dallas Cowboys.

Toulouse was relegated from France’s top division after finishing bottom of the league table when COVID-19 brought an early end to the season. Next season it will play in the second division.

“We are committed to building a sustainable, long-term foundation for the club’s success by enhancing its on-field sporting performance, business operations and contributions to its community,” Cardinale said.

Read:Sports are back on the pitch. So is private equity — and the competition is heating up

RedBird is the latest buyout group to invest in sports, many of which have had to cancel months of matches during government lockdowns to stop the spread of the pandemic.

Serie A, for example, is being targeted by several private-equity firms, including CVC Capital Partners, Bain Capital and Advent International, after revenue for the season is forecast to fall to €2.1 billion (around $2.4 billion) from €2.5 billion the previous year, according to analysts at Deloitte.

Meanwhile, a newly formed firm, The Sport Investment Group Italia, made an offer last month to take over third-tier Italian football club Calcio Catania for €54.5 million — which will cover the team’s debts.

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