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Investors eye Swiss sports rights group Infront

Reuters

(Adds comment from company)

By Alexander Hübner

FRANKFURT/LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Swiss sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media AG has been approached by a number of potential new investors as it seeks to fund further expansion, its chief executive said in an letter obtained by Reuters.

Infront, bought by private equity firm Bridgepoint in a 550 million euro ($723 million) deal in 2011, said it was planning to grow its business in new locations and develop new services which will require additional investment.

The company is led by Philippe Blatter, who is the nephew of Sepp Blatter, head of world soccer's governing body FIFA.

Based in Zug, Switzerland, Infront says it is involved in almost 10 sporting events daily across the globe. The firm promotes and handles media production and distribution rights for events including the soccer World Cup and Olympic winter sports federations. The company also does marketing for the Ironman triathlons in Europe and South Africa. It had estimated revenues of about 600 million euros in 2013.

"Bridgepoint and the Infront Management ... commenced a process to review different options for the company to find the appropriate support for its next phase of growth," Philippe Blatter said in a letter to the company's clients.

"Encouragingly, a substantial number of organisations have already actively expressed their interest in supporting the company, which makes us consider the overall current market situation as favourable for this review," he said.

Bridgepoint declined to comment on the contents of the letter, while Infront declined to comment on the specifics of the company's growth plans or expressions of interest received.

"Nothing has been decided yet. At this stage a strategic review of all possible options to foster future growth is conducted," a spokesman said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Infront's rivals include IMG Worldwide Inc, which was bought last December for $2.3 billion by talent agency William Morris Endeavor, and private equity backer Silver Lake.

Blatter said in the letter to clients that he would continue to lead Infront, which represents six of the seven Olympic winter sport federations.

In July, the company raised an extra 155 million euros of loans to pay a dividend to owner Bridgepoint.

Bridgepoint bought Infront Sports in 2011 from Jacobs Holding and shareholder Martin Steinmeyer, financing the deal with equity and a vendor loan without new bank facilities. Management also retained a stake in the business.

($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Additional reporting by Keith Weir, Freya Berry and Ankush Sharma; Editing by David Clarke)

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