Hollywood money man Paul Conway has formed a European soccer-seeking SPAC with Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay Rays owner Randy Frankel and Angel City co-owner Julie Uhrman.
The SPAC, Counter Press Acquisition, is seeking to raise $75 million in an initial public offering “to focus on businesses in the sports, media and data analytics sectors, with a focus on professional sports businesses,” according to the preliminary prospectus filed today with the Securities & Exchange Commission.
Counter Press lists criteria for potential acquisition targets, including European football clubs “with intrinsic brand value that could be enhanced by our management team through improvement of (a) on-field performance through an analytics-based approach, and (b) business and revenue operations,” according to the filing.
As president of Dodgers’ baseball operations and previously at Frankel’s Rays, Friedman has been at the forefront of using analytics. In particular, the Rays have been known for building teams that have competed and won against high-payroll clubs in the American League East, overcoming issues with their fan base and stadium. Uhrman is a co-founder of Angel City Football Club, an LA-based National Women’s Soccer League franchise set to debut in 2022. She previously was an executive in the streaming division of Lionsgate.
Conway, the SPAC’s CEO, is the co-founder of Pacific Media Group, a financier and distributor of movies including Ad Astra, The Martian and X-Men Apocalypse. Conway is also co-chairman of Barnsley FC, currently in one of the relegation slots of England’s second soccer division. He also is on the board of Switzerland’s FC Thun soccer club. Conway holds additional soccer team stakes in clubs in Belgium, Denmark and France. Those are held through Partners Path, a multifamily investment firm founded by one-time Rays executive Michael Kalt. Kalt himself is part of the SPAC management, as chief financial officer. Frankel holds the role of chairman.
“As more sports clubs and sports and media related businesses understand the necessity of building global brands in order to compete for revenue and brand recognition across fan bases, mature management teams, experiences and expertise will be required to enhance visibility and profitability,” the business said in the filing. “We believe that our management team can provide all of these attributes to a potential target.”
European soccer teams are a frequently discussed potential target for SPACs, which raise money at an IPO with the intent of finding a business to buy later. Counter Press becomes the seventh blank check to specify a desire for a sports franchise, and there are 21 more on the market that are sports focused and open to acquiring a team. To date, none have made a team acquisition. Those SPACs have $6.5 billion in capital, according to the Sportico Sports SPAC Tracker.
Waiting in the wings for an IPO are nearly two dozen more SPACs whose stated acquisition criteria would indicate sports teams as potential buys. Including Counter Press, that group hopes to raise $5.5 billion.
Counter Press’ IPO is being led by brokerages BTIG and EarlyBird Capital. The offering is hoping to sell 75 million units, consisting of a share and half a warrant (the right to buy another share) for $10.