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PGA Tour Secures $3B From Fenway Sports-Led Investor Group

A syndicate of well-heeled investors has reached a deal to invest up to $3 billion in a new PGA Tour commercial venture, according to an announcement from the governing body.

Fenway Sports Group is the lead investor and is joined by a number of prominent sports team owners who have been in negotiations with the tour for months. The funds will help create a new for-profit entity, PGA Tour Enterprises, which will house the Tour’s commercial rights.

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Nearly 200 PGA Tour players will receive more than $1.5 billion in equity in the new venture. The grants will vest over time and be based on “career accomplishments, recent achievements, future participation and services and PGA Tour membership status.” The grants are only available to qualified PGA Tour players.

“By making PGA Tour members owners of their league, we strengthen the collective investment of our players in the success of the PGA Tour,” commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement.

The agreement is separate from the ongoing negotiations between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf that will shape the future of the global golf landscape. The “framework agreement” was announced June 6 and had a deadline for the end of 2023 but was extended as the parties continued negotiations.

The new capital could provide the PGA Tour with leverage during those merger negotiations. It could also allow the PGA Tour to remain on its own, eschewing an agreement with LIV, which is funded by Public Investment Fund with more than $700 billion in assets under management. The PGA Tour also faced a funding gap when it raised prize money to keep pace with the LIV payouts. Another wrinkle is the increased cost of tournament title sponsorships that has caused brands, including Wells Fargo, to walk away from their long-time deals.

The investor group is known as the Strategic Sports Group and comprises owners in the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and EPL. The consortium of more than a dozen names includes hedge fund manager and New York Mets owner Steven Cohen, who is worth $20 billion according to Forbes, and Home Depot co-founder and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, worth $8.2 billion. FSG owner John Henry ($5.1 billion); FSG chairman Tom Werner ($1.7 billion); Milwaukee Brewers owner Mark Attanasio; Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck; Boston Globe Media co-owner Linda Henry; and Marc Lasry’s Avenue Sports Fund are other members of the group.

Cohen, Henry, Lasry and Blank are four of the six franchise owners of TGL, the team golf league backed by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts was part of the original discussions to invest in SSG but not part of the final investor group.

The SSG was selected to enter exclusive talks for an investment into the PGA Tour. There were other suitors—including Endeavor, which offered to make a capital investment as part of a wider multiyear deal with the tour.

If the broader PGA-LIV-DP World Tour deal happens, the PGA Tour would remain in control of the for-profit entity, and the Strategic Sports Group would be a minority owner.

Allen & Co. and the Raine Group served as financial advisors to the PGA Tour. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz served as the tour’s legal advisor. Hogan Lovells and Shearman & Sterling served as legal advisors to the SSG.

The 2024 PGA Tour season teed off in Hawaii at the beginning of January, while the first event of the LIV Golf seasons starts Friday in Mexico.

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