MP & Silva Said Valued at $1.4 Billion in Sale to Chinese Group

  • Beijing Baofeng Technology leads group taking majority stake
  • Sports media rights company counts NFL, Formula 1 as partners

MP & Silva, a sports media company whose partners include the National Football League, Formula 1 racing and the English Premier League, has agreed to sell a controlling stake to a group led by Beijing Baofeng Technology Co., according to a person with knowledge of the sale.

The deal values the company at $1.4 billion, said the person, who asked to be anonymous because the deal isn’t public. The size and details of the portion sold, as well as the other firms buying alongside Baofeng, weren’t disclosed.

It is the latest Chinese bet on the global growth of professional sports. Specifically, sports teams and leagues in the U.S. and Europe are increasingly looking overseas for growth, and MP & Silva is an established middleman: its primary business is negotiating teams’ and leagues’ broadcast rights around the world. Last year, the firm sold the NFL’s broadcast rights across Europe through 2019.

With headquarters in London and Singapore, some of the company’s other sports partners include Italian Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga, the French Open and Major League Baseball’s World Baseball Classic. Its television clients include Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and Fox Sports. The company also handles sponsorship sales and is developing the Americas Champions League, an international soccer tournament that would crown a club champion from North and South America and the Caribbean.

Beijing Baofeng Technology operates a number of online businesses, including a movie player and game website. It also makes virtual reality headsets. It went public last year, and shares jumped 4,208 percent in the first 55 trading days.

Baofeng could not be reached for comment after hours in Beijing, and emails seeking comment bounced back. MP & Silva spokeswoman Rachel Hughes declined to comment.

MP & Silva was previously controlled by co-founders Andrea Radrizzani and Riccardo Silva, who owned a combined 80 percent of the company shares. Third co-founder Carlo Pozzali is a minority shareholder.

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