Teams from Jones Day, Herbert Smith Freehills and Walker Morris have won mandates as Premier League football club Crystal Palace FC restructures in an ownership deal with US billionaires Josh Harris and David Blitzer which includes an initial £50m investment.
Crystal Palace, which is currently seventh in the Premier League and just five points behind the lucrative Champions League spots, will use the initial £50m cash injection to redevelop its stadium (pictured) in south east London. The club has assumed a general partnership structure made up of Harris, Blitzer and current chairman Steve Parish.
HSF advised the existing shareholders, including wine merchant Stephen Browett, founder of investment fund Marathon Asset Management Jeremy Hosking and Churchill Insurance founder Martin Long, on the sale of part of their stake in the club. The existing shareholders, and their investment vehicle CPFC2010, retain a stake.
Jones Day and Wall Street firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz were instructed by Americans Harris and Blitzer. Both are well known in the private equity space, with Harris one of the founders of US leveraged buyout giant Apollo Global Management and Blitzer head of head of tactical opportunities at Blackstone Group. Serial sports investors, the pair currently own the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and ice hockey team New Jersey Devils. City private equity partners at Jones Day, Raymond McKeeve and Michael Weir, led the deal in the UK for the Harris and Blitzer.
James MacArthur, head of private equity at HSF, led the legal advice for the existing shareholders. Walker Morris head of sport David Hinchliffe advised Crystal Palace FC.
Walker Morris, through Hinchliffe and his team, has experienced strong deal flow in the sports industry as overseas investors take stakes in the UK’s biggest football clubs. Recent mandates include advising a Thailand-based consortium on its takeover of Reading FC estimated to be worth around £25m.
Hinchliffe has advised Crystal Palace since it was bought out of administration in 2010 and said ‘the investment will provide valuable funds to enable the club to make long term investments in the infrastructure and give the fans the first-class facilities they deserve’.