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Blues Super Rugby licence sold to investors

The Blues mascot Blue Beard

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Article Published: Friday 17 May 2013

The Super Rugby licence for the Blues franchise in Auckland has been partially sold-off to a private investment firm until 2020.

The new structure is a limited liability partnership with Rugby Holdings Ltd (comprised of the three provincial rugby unions, Auckland, North Harbour and Northland) holding a 60 per cent share and Bolton Equities Ltd, a private investment company run by Murray Bolton has a 40 per cent stake.

Bolton is Executive Chairman of Bolton Equities Ltd, a private equity investment company with significant stakes in a number of private companies in New Zealand and Australia.

Bolton is a founding Trustee of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust and has been Chairman for the last 10 years. He has a career background in international finance and investment with Citicorp in New York and was CEO of Brierley Investments (NZ) Ltd, Skellerup Group Ltd and the Rural Bank of New Zealand.

A new board of seven members will become effective from September 1 this year with independent chairman Tony Carter at the helm.

Carter is chairman of Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, chairman (Elect) of Air New Zealand Limited, a director of Fletcher Building Limited and ANZ Bank New Zealand Limited.

He is co-chairman of the New Zealand Initiative and is a trustee of the Maurice Carter Charitable Trust. He served as Managing Director of Foodstuffs New Zealand Limited for ten years from 2001 to 2010.

"I am a passionate rugby follower and it's a real honour to be appointed chairman of the new Blues board as the organisation moves into a new era of governance and management, said Carter.

NZRU chairman Steve Tew said the joint-ownership deal, which involves Auckland-based Bolton Equities taking a 40 percent stake in the club, was part of a plan to put New Zealand's clubs on a stronger financial footing.

"With fresh thinking and new capital we believe the Blues will be better equipped to face the challenges ahead," he said in a statement.

It is the latest in a series of moves by the NZRU to improve its finances, including a deal unveiled last year for the All Blacks to wear a sponsor's logo on their jerseys for only the second time in their 108-year history.

The Hurricanes and Crusaders agreed to similar ownership deals last year.

The NZRU said progress was being made on finding an investor for defending Super champions the Chiefs.

New Zealand's only other Super Rugby side, the financially struggling Highlanders, was not included in the sale process.

The new Blues board will be:

Tony Carter - Chairman
Murray Bolton - Bolton Equities
Laurie Margrain - Bolton Equities
To be appointed - Bolton Equities
Glenn Wahlstrom - Rugby Holdings - ARU
Gary Whetton - Rugby Holdings - ARU
John Morgan - Rugby Holding - NHRU

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