Australian Professional Leagues Announces Minority Investment from Silver Lake to Drive Technology Enhancements, Innovation and Growth
Sydney, Australia, December 14, 2021 – Australian Professional Leagues (APL), the entity responsible for the operation, commercialisation and marketing of professional football in Australia, today announced that Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing, has made a significant minority investment in the organisation. The investment will drive technology enhancements and innovation aimed at improving the fan experience and driving further development of the game in Australia. The transaction values APL at approximately USD$300m / AUD $425M.
Silver Lake’s investment is aimed at supporting APL’s sustained, long-term growth strategy for the leagues, with a measured deployment of capital over the coming years. Funds will be used to drive enhancements widely across many aspects of the professional game.
APL’s digital first strategy will continue to evolve with a focus on marketing, product development and strengthening its direct-to-consumer execution.
Funds will also be allocated to support the on-field enhancement of the A-Leagues including increased investment in all competitions with a specific focus on extended growth in the Liberty A-League Women and A-League Youth competitions. Additional investment is planned to be deployed for development of unique community engagement propositions to further connect the game.
Stephen Evans, Silver Lake Managing Director, will become a Member of the APL Board.
Commenting on the announcement, Paul Lederer, A-Leagues Chair, said: “Silver Lake is a world-class leader in technology and sports investing and this partnership is a testament to the compelling opportunities for growth and even better, deeper fan engagement that our leagues are cultivating. This valuation recognises the latent potential that has long existed in the professional game in Australia, and the ability of our board and executive team to realise that potential.
“We welcome the opportunity to work closely with Silver Lake to harness the team’s experience, including around new technology adoption and other growth strategies critical to realising the potential of Australian football,” Lederer continued.
“The Australian Professional Leagues has a large, growing and passionate fan base across its thirteen teams and the organization has made great strides as it focuses on leveraging technology to strengthen Australian football and enrich the fan experience,” said Stephen Evans, Managing Director at Silver Lake. “We are excited to partner with the Board, Danny Townsend, and the entire executive team to help further accelerate APL’s digital transformation and support its continued momentum and ambitious vision for long-term sustainable and inclusive growth.”
APL has driven significant change in professional football in Australia since unbundling from football’s governing body in December 2020. Silver Lake’s investment is the latest in a series of announcements since APL stepped up to manage commercial aspects of the professional game including: a landmark broadcast partnership with ViacomCBS to show professional football on Network 10 and the new Paramount+ streaming service; the unveiling of a new and inclusive brand identity; the launch of digital platform KEEPUP; naming rights partnerships with Isuzu UTE Australia and non-bank lender Liberty for the men’s and women’s competitions respectively; the expansion of the women’s league by three teams in two years; and an historic collective bargaining agreement with Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) that sets unprecedented standards for professional players in Australia and bringing genuine equity to the game.
Jefferies Australia acted as the financial advisor to Silver Lake.
The Silver Lake transaction has been approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and Football Australia.
About Australian Professional Leagues (APL)
The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) is a live action and digital sports entertainment business that holds the exclusive and perpetual right to operate, market and commercialise the top tier professional domestic football competitions in Australia. Known collectively as the A-Leagues, they are made up of – A-League Men, A-League Women, A-League Youth and the E-League. APL’s vision is to unite Australian Football, establishing it as the most entertaining and popular sport by 2030.
A-Leagues Club Unitholders hold (64.7%) of the APL. SilverLake, the global leader in technology investing, takes a 33.3% equity share, whilst Viacom CBS, the A-Leagues broadcast partner holds the remaining 2% of APL equity.
Football Australia, the regulator of the domestic game, holds a non-financial minority equity interest in APL to ensure there is a ‘Good of the Game’ governance structure that enables all levels of football, from grassroots to international, with an opportunity to benefit from the success of the professional game.
About Silver Lake
Silver Lake is a leading global technology investment firm, with more than $90 billion in combined assets under management and committed capital and a team of professionals based in North America, Europe, and Asia. Silver Lake’s portfolio companies collectively generate more than $227 billion of revenue annually and employ more than 567,000 people globally. For more information about Silver Lake and its portfolio, please visit Silver Lake’s website at silverlake.com.