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Soccer-Serie A defers vote on media unit stake sale, deal seen at risk - sources

MILAN, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Italy’s top flight soccer league Serie A has postponed further a decision over a sale of a stake in its media business to a consortium of private equity investors, two sources close to the matter said, in a move which might put the deal at risk.

In October, Serie A agreed to enter exclusive talks with a consortium including CVC Capital Partners, Advent International and Italian fund FSI.

On Monday, the clubs decided to postpone a vote on the terms of the agreement after last week delaying a decision until Thursday. No date for a meeting has yet been set, the sources said, although one added that it would take place next week. The private equity investors offered 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) for a 10% stake of a newly-created unit managing the Italian soccer league’s media business.

Negotiations have being going on for months but some of the 20 clubs still have reservations as they fear losing control of their main source of revenue.

Last week the consortium asked the Italian league to give a final response on the deal, threatening to walk away and refusing to negotiate further the terms of the deal, other sources familiar with the matter have said.

The entry of private equity investors into the league’s media unit is seen as a way to develop the business and weather the novel coronavirus financial storm.

But after broadcasters gave a good response to an auction for Serie A’s domestic TV licences in a round of talks, clubs which expressed reservations on the stake sale added arguments against the deal, a top club top official told Reuters.

CVC and Advent declined to comment. FSI was not immediately available to comment. (Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Elisa Anzolin; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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