CVC Capital Eyes Major Tennis Shake-Up And ATP & WTA Merger

CVC Capital Partners, a US private equity firm, is reportedly eyeing a major shake-up in professional tennis as it seeks a $600 million agreement to unite the ATP men’s and WTA women’s tours.

According to Sky News, CVC wants to merge the ATP and WTA organisations to develop “One Tennis,” a new global commercial identity for tennis.

‘Transform the face of global tennis’

ATP Media’s Chief Executive, Mark Webster, who runs the men’s tour’s commercial rights arm, would lead One Tennis as part of the ideas, which have the potential to ‘transform the face of global tennis.’

The ATP and WTA currently manage media and data rights separately, as well as some centralised door sponsorship deals, while individual circuit tournaments manage their own sponsorship sales. The ATP and WTA, on the other hand, would continue to manage sporting affairs.

According to Sky News, talks have progressed to a ‘advanced stage,’ and CVC is expected to seek approval from the individual boards later this month to move forward with the investment.

According to the Financial Times, CVC would take a minority 15 percent ownership in the new agency, valuing it at $4 billion.

Furthermore, the agreement calls for increased investment in tournaments and player prize money, as well as expanded broadcast production skills and a global digital platform for spectators, all of which will help the sport recover faster from the pandemic.

Overhaul recommendation

The Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU) conducted an assessment of pro-tennis institutions in 2019 and recommended that the ATP and WTA overhaul their circuits, prize money, and athlete rankings.

CVC is in the process of obtaining a 14.3 percent investment in Six Nations Rugby as part of a long-term strategic collaboration with the Luxembourg-based corporation, which already owns a stake in Premiership Rugby and the Pro14.

However, the PE firm’s aggressive growth into professional sports has drawn criticism, with some questioning whether sports league governance and behaviour should be overseen by a profit-driven fund.

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