Currie Cup

Private firm buys 50% stake in Currie Cup team

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Private equity firm Bunker Capital has acquired the 50% share the South African Rugby Union held in the Eagles (South Western Districts) in a ground-breaking deal that was finalised recently.

According to Derrick de Necker, chief executive of Bunker Capital, it is the first transaction of its kind in South African rugby.

“This paves the way forward to attract private investment into rugby. It will also allow the commercial side of rugby in this country to be developed from ground level up,” said De Necker.

The new venture will mean a massive financial injection for SWD that will boost rugby in the region tremendously.

From the outset the firm made it clear that its first priority would be community and amateur rugby, and ensuring more funds were contractually allocated towards development than to the professional side of things. SA Rugby supported this viewpoint and a long negotiation period started.

“This will position SWD much better with an eye on the future and adds possibilities of expansion for the union,” said Stag Cronje, president of SWD.

“I believe we can make a huge success of this venture that will strengthen rugby in SWD considerably for the next five to six years. It is also of particular importance to note that the substantial capital outlay, as a result of this deal, will be of utmost importance to the growth and development of amateur rugby with specific reference to the regions, clubs and schools.”

John Levey, the chairman of the firm, said they were happy to get involved in SWD Rugby in this way.

“We are grateful and excited to have come this far. One of our challenges was to draft a comprehensive shareholders agreement to set guidelines in place for co-operation and accountability in an attempt to bring a proper balance between the interest of professional and amateur rugby within the region,” said Levey.

“A greater challenge was to set a structure in place that could make a meaningful contribution towards our vision and goals without being primarily profit driven. For this purpose a sports fund (Living Eagles Development Fund) was created.

“Sport provides a great but challenging opportunity to build bridges and bring about positive transformation in our communities. It is the magnet that draws our children and provides the opportunity for much needed mentorship and training.”

De Necker added: “We have already started with the structuring of our sports academy and are looking at a possible venue at the Saasveld College Campus in George, which is currently run by former Blue Bulls Under 21 coach Ashley Evert.”

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