PGA Tour players get equity stake in US$3 billion deal with Fenway-led investor group

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The PGA Tour is receiving a $3 billion investment from Strategic Sports Group in a deal that would give players access to more than $1.5 billion as shareholders in the new PGA Tour Enterprises.

The launch of PGA Tour Enterprises, with SSG as a minority partner, comes eight months after the PGA Tour signed a framework agreement with LIV Golf’s Saudi backers for a commercial venture, and ultimately led capital groups- investment to want to join.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the announcement, which is expected to be released Wednesday morning. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was holding a conference call with players about the deal finalized Tuesday evening.

The Washington Post was first to report the deal with SSG.

The tour is still in negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which was not part of the deal. The tour said its partnership with SSG allows for co-investment from PIF, subject to regulatory approval.

“By making PGA Tour members the owners of their league, we are strengthening our players’ collective investment in the success of the PGA Tour,” Monahan, who will serve as CEO of PGA Tour Enterprises, said in the official announcement.

He said a partnership with SSG, a group made up of U.S. owners and executives of professional sports franchises, “will strengthen our organization’s ability to make sports more rewarding for players, tournaments, fans and partners.” .

This unique equity program in golf would allow some 200 players to access initial grants. Starting next year, PGA Tour Enterprises would provide recurring grants to future players.

Although specific details of the stock program have not been announced, initial grants would be based on professional achievements, recent achievements and PGA Tour status. Grants would vest over time.

“Firm belief” in the Tour’s expansive growth potential

SSG is led by Fenway Sports Group and includes owners Marc Attanasio (Milwaukee Brewers); Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons); Steven Cohen (New York Mets); Wyc Grousbeck (Boston Celtics); Tom Werner and John Henry (Boston Red Sox); Marc Lasry (Milwaukee Bucks). Other members of the group include Alec Scheiner, former president of the Cleveland Browns and partner at RedBird Capital.

“Our enthusiasm for this new venture comes from a very deep respect for this remarkable game and a firm belief in the expansive growth potential of the PGA Tour,” said Henry, principal owner of Fenway Sports and director of SSG.

SSG is initially investing $1.5 billion in PGA Tour Enterprises and will focus on maximizing revenue for the benefit of players and pursuing opportunities to improve golf around the world. Another $1.5 billion would be dedicated to PGA Tour operations.

The deal was unanimously approved by the PGA Tour board of directors, which includes six players: Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Webb Simpson and Peter Malnati.

“It was extremely important to us to create opportunities for players of today and tomorrow to become more invested in their organizations, both financially and strategically,” player executives said in a joint statement. “This not only strengthens the tour from a business perspective, but also encourages players to fully invest in continuing to deliver and further improve the best in golf to our fans.

“We look forward to this next chapter and an even better future.”

The tour said it was making progress in its negotiations with the Saudi national fund on future investments and a final agreement. According to the original framework agreement, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF, was to be president of PGA Tour Enterprises. It’s unclear how the partnership with SSG affects this.

The tour said SSG accepted any PIF investment, subject to necessary review and approval.

A congressional committee led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, sent a letter to Al-Rumayyan on Monday asking him to cooperate in allowing the committee to subpoena four U.S. consulting firms working for the PIF.

The European Tour was part of the June 6 framework agreement and has a strategic alliance with the PGA Tour. The tour simply stated that it was discussing how they can work together for mutual benefit.

Key to the original deal was the dismissal of lawsuits involving LIV Golf. Since the rival league launched in June 2022, LIV has attracted several top players and major champions such as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau.

As the tour’s negotiations with PIF approached their original Dec. 31 deadline, LIV signed Masters champion Jon Rahm in a deal believed to be worth around $500 million. He also recruited Tyrrell Hatton, currently world number 16, for a third season which begins Friday in Mexico.

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