American investment consortium MVM Holdings, who had sought to secure a controlling stake in the Stormers and Western Province have reached an agreement for a controlling stake in their coastal rivals, the Sharks.
The group is headed up by Durban-born attorney Marco Masotti and had been engaged in protracted and ultimately messy negotiations with Western Province Rugby with a view to gaining a controlling stake.
“The Sharks have a deep and wonderful history that can translate into a formidable global rugby brand.” Masotti said. “Our investment is designed to facilitate the expansion of the franchise through deep relationships with business people, financing sources and other sporting codes. We believe that rugby provides a unique platform for character and community building. We intend to shine a global light on the city of Durban and create opportunities for players from diverse backgrounds to become international stars.”
WP’s loss is the Sharks gain
After months of fruitless talks with WP Rugby, MVM Holdings have moved smartly to get their hands on a South African team.
MVM Holdings have promised significant investment not only into Sharks Rugby but into the wider game in South Africa.
Masotti commended Sharks CEO Eduard Coetzee’s eagerness to work with the consortium that includes Michael Yormark of sports agents Roc Nation.
“The response from (Sharks CEO) Eduard Coetzee was incredible,” Masotti told IOL. “The deal was concluded very quickly. What impressed us is that the Sharks are open-minded and hungry to embrace change and grow into the future, and we have so many exciting plans for developing the brand and growing the sport.”
The group reportedly offered a figure in the region of R100 million for a controlling stake in the Stormers, but it is not yet known what deal was on the table for the Sharks.
MVM Holdings have promised to start their involvement with the Sharks by getting involved in community outreach. The group reportedly have a keen interest in rugby in the Eastern Cape and believe the Sharks could help them facilitate growth in the region which has traditionally been a stronghold of rugby despite being beset by maladministration and Eastern Province and Border teams serving as a feeders to the bigger organisations.
“We will start with community building. The relationship between one of our investors in Vincent Kai (formerly of the Eastern Cape and now an investment tycoon in the USA) and Siya Kolisi is a special one,” Massoti added.
“While we are obviously going to be based in Durban, we regard growing rugby in the Eastern Cape as a priority.”
Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi has been heavily linked with a move to the Sharks and MVM’s move is only likely to stoke more rumours.
The Sharks are among the four South African teams set to enter the so-called Rainbow Cup with the 12 former Pro14 teams from Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.