777 partners acquire Windhorst shares in the Berlin football club

(Bloomberg) — 777 Partners LLC expands its line of football acquisitions this year with a deal to buy a majority stake in German club Hertha BSC Berlin from Lars Windhorst.

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The US private equity investor has agreed to acquire 64.7 percent of the shares in the Bundesliga club from Windhorst’s Tennor Holdings, according to a statement on Wednesday. The transaction is said to be the largest purchase by a foreign company in the top German football league to date.

It is also the latest example of the growing trend of multi-club ownership spreading in the world’s most popular sport. Miami-based 777, led by co-founders Steven Pasko and Josh Wander, is among companies that have been buying up clubs to try to appropriate football’s riches.

These investors’ big appetites have even taken them to Germany, where strict ownership rules that prioritize fans’ needs over financial surplus have deterred buyers for years.

Americans in particular are drawn to the growth potential and lower valuations of European football compared to sports franchises back home. This year, 777 signed deals for Paris-based Red Star FC and Belgium’s Standard Liège, as well as Vasco da Gama in Brazil.

The company, which targets historic clubs with deep connections to fan bases, also owns Italy’s oldest football team, Genoa Cricket and Football Club, and interests in Spain’s Sevilla FC and Australia’s Melbourne Victory FC.

Proponents of the multi-club model point to cost synergies and the potential for more lucrative sponsorship deals. Its critics say it stifles competition and creates feeder teams with no real chance of success.

Hertha BSC is currently in 15th place in the German Bundesliga – just above the relegation zone.

Windhorst paid around 375 million euros for its stake in Hertha BSC. The controversial investor has been accused of hiring an Israeli spy firm to help overthrow the football club’s former president.

“The sale to 777 Partners is an excellent solution and we are very pleased with this outcome,” Windhorst said in a statement.

The 777 acquisition is subject to the approval of both the board of Hertha BSC and the German football association Deutsche Fußball Liga.

Read more: Lars Windhorst wants to separate from the Berlin football club

(Updates with 777 details throughout.)

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