Arctos inked a deal to pay €34 million for an initial equity investment into the club, according to a person familiar with the deal who asked not to be named because the matter is private. Boston Celtics’ managing owner Steve Pagliuca helped make the connection with Arctos to buy into the club, said the person. Pagliuca, who also leads private equity firm Bain Capital, led a group that bought about 47% of Atalanta earlier this year from Italy’s Percassi family. Executives at Arctos declined to comment.
Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio is one of the more successful teams in Italian soccer, considered one of the premier squads not located in a major Italian city. The club finished third in the top-flight league the past three seasons with two consecutive Champions League appearances during that time, though Atalanta sits seventh in its current campaign. Atalanta generated about $255 million in revenue, $56 million in net income and had roughly $53 million in long-term debt at the end of calendar year 2020, the latest period disclosed to Italian regulators.
The purchase is a notable expansion for Arctos—almost all of its investments that have been reported are in North America. Founded in late 2019, Arctos is a private equity fund that seeks to invest in limited partner stakes of professional teams of major sports. It has more than $5 billion in total assets, having just closed on $1.1 billion for a new fund last week. Overall, Arctos has investments in around 18 sports teams, primarily in baseball, basketball and hockey.
The Atalanta purchase is through Arctos’ first fund, which itself has $3.9 billion in capital, according to a spring regulatory filing.
It is unclear whose Atalanta equity Arctos bought, although Pagliuca had been a finalist in the bidding for English club Chelsea, and it was believed he would need to reduce his control of Atalanta as a condition of buying that team. Pagliuca’s group lost the bidding war formally on Friday when a Todd Boehly-led consortium triumphed.
Arctos was not involved with any group in bidding for Chelsea, according to a person with knowledge of the bids who asked not to be named because they weren’t authorized to speak.