Welcome to Sportico’s Transactions wire, a weekly rundown of personnel, partnerships and purchases across the sports business industry
Wasserman Acquires Jet Sports Management
The Wasserman agency has acquired Jet Sports Management and hired Jet Sports founder B.B. Abbott as executive vice president and managing executive, baseball. Abbott, as well as baseball agents Andrew Lowenthal, Al Goetz, Hank Sargent, Alex Ott, Tyler Pastornicky and Blaise Salter, and staff members Stephanie Khoury and Ashley Foss, will join Wasserman’s baseball division effective immediately. All of Jet Sports’ clients will join Wasserman’s roster of athletes. The acquisition continues Wasserman’s efforts to expand its sport and service offerings in 2022, following the acquisition of Esportif and launch of Wasserman Rugby in June, as well as the acquisition of Mullhaupt Management.
Drew Brees Plucks Major League Pickleball Team
Super Bowl champion and avid pickleball fan Drew Brees has joined the ownership group of Major League Pickleball’s Mad Drops Pickleball Club. The former New Orleans Saints quarterback joins former World No. 4 tennis player James Blake as an MLP investor. Major League Pickleball consists of 12 teams representing the highest level of the sport. Mad Drops Pickleball Club, based in Austin, Texas, was founded in March 2022. This season kicked off with MLP’s first team competition in Austin in early June. The leagues second team competition to Newport Beach, California from August 5-7 and will offer the largest prize purse ($319,000) in the history of pickleball, with the winning team taking home $100,000.
NBA All-Star Appointed to Overtime Elite Board
Overtime Elite has named two-time NBA champion and six-time All-Star Pau Gasol to its board of directors. Gasol joins Overtime CEO and co-founder Dan Porter, Overtime president and co-founder Zack Weiner, Overtime CFO Farzeen Ghorashy, Carmelo Anthony and Jay Williams on the OTE Board. Every contracted OTE player is offered a six-figure salary, with a guaranteed minimum salary of at least $100,000 per year, plus bonuses and shares of equity in Overtime. In addition, players will participate in revenue from use of their name, image and likeness, including through sales of custom jerseys, trading cards, video games and NFTs. Starting this season, players have the option to choose a scholarship or salary option. Gasol’s appointment is effective immediately, and he’s already participated in his first board meeting.
Fanduel Announces Executive Appointments
FanDuel Group has promoted Christian Genetski to the role of president, FanDuel Group and Mike Raffensperger to the newly created position of chief commercial officer. Both executives will continue their long tenures with FanDuel and have separate and direct reporting lines into Amy Howe, CEO. Genetski will oversee all of FanDuel’s business development, partnership, corporate strategy, and government affairs units. He will also be responsible for driving FanDuel’s vision and execution of strategic partnerships and new business initiatives. Raffensperger will oversee revenue generation across FanDuel’s sportsbook, casino, racing, daily fantasy and free-to-play platforms. The new position significantly expands Raffensperger’s duties to include commercial leadership, which had previously been run by Howe. In addition, he will assume oversight of FanDuel’s content and programming assets including the company’s broadly distributed cable network, TVG.
Fenway Sports Group Adds to Executive Leadership
Fenway Sports Group has hired Julie Swinehart as the company’s CFO. She will oversee finance and accounting practices across FSG’s portfolio, serve as an advisor on all strategic investment initiatives and have lead responsibility for financial reporting to FSG’s ownership group, investors, and banking partners. Swinehart brings more than 15 years of public REIT experience and eight years of accounting experience. She previously worked for Retail Properties of America, Inc. (RPAI) where she most recently held the position of EVP, CFO and treasurer.
United Talent Agency and EQT Private Equity Announce Strategic Partnership
EQT has agreed to become a strategic investor in UTA. The move recognizes UTA’s artist-first approach and recent growth trajectory and will help fuel the next phase of investments in talent, innovation and international expansion. Under the transaction, the UTA partnership and leadership continue to hold the controlling interest in the company, with EQT becoming the largest outside shareholder. As part of the transaction, Investcorp, a global alternative investment firm, which invested in UTA in 2018, will sell its full minority stake to EQT, and EQT will also purchase a portion of existing stakes from continuing shareholders including PSP Investments. The transaction is expected to close later this month.
777 Football Group Promotes Two
777 Partners announced that Johannes Spors has been elevated to group sporting director for its football group, while former Juventus official Marco Ottolini will replace Spors as sporting director of Genoa CFC in Italy. In this newly created role, Spors will oversee all sporting operations for the group, working closely with the directors at each of the clubs within the 777 Football Group network. The role will ensure consistent structure and best practices in areas including player development, performance, technology, recruiting and scouting. 777 Football Group includes ownership of Genoa in Italy, SA Standard de Liege in Belgium and Red Star FC in France, as well as a significant minority stake in Sevilla FC in Spain. 777 Partners is negotiating to acquire a 70% stake in Vasco da Gama in Brazil. Ottolini takes over at Genoa following a successful run at Juventus that saw the club win consecutive Serie A titles.
World Teamtennis Looks to Expand for 2023
The nation’s only professional, mixed-gender team tennis league, World TeamTennis, is accepting expansion proposals from prospective ownership groups and markets that are interested in acquiring a WTT franchise. WTT, which played in single locations during the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is also planning to play in the individual teams’ markets in the summer of 2023. The expansion franchise fee is $1,000,000, and the league is open to adding new investors and owners at the league level.
Triathletes And Endeavor Team for D2C Platform PTO+
The Professional Triathletes Organization has entered a multi-year partnership with Endeavor Streaming to launch an OTT offering. The service, PTO+, will launch as a free, registration-only service to maximize audience engagement. Outside of Europe and the Indian Subcontinent, where Warner Bros. Discovery has the exclusive live rights, PTO+ will live stream PTO Tour events and shoulder content preview shows, highlights packages, live media events and documentaries. With Endeavor Streaming’s performance analytics insight tooling, PTO can take advantage of consumer insight metrics to maximize audience growth opportunities and build a marketplace strategy.
Summit League Tabs Collegiate Sports Management for Rights Strategy
The Summit League announced that Collegiate Sports Management Group will representing it and play a strategic role in formulating its conference media rights strategy under new commissioner Josh Fenton. Headquartered in Sioux Falls, S.D., the Summit League consists of 10 full members (Denver, Missouri-Kansas City, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Oral Roberts, South Dakota, South Dakota State, St. Thomas and Western Illinois) and six associate members (Drake, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State, Lindenwood, Southern Indiana and Northern Colorado). The League sponsors nine men’s sports and 10 women’s sports teams with its membership representing more than 178,000 enrolled students.
Banyan Tree Group Enters PGA Principal Partner Program
Banyan Tree hospitality group has struck a multi-year deal with the PGA, the organization of club golf professionals outside the U.S. Banyan’s Laguna Phuket resort in Thailand already houses a PGA-branded academy and has hosted The PGA’s popular International Members’ Conference on three times. As part of the agreement PGA members will have access to a Banyan Tree Group pro-am event and hotel, leisure, travel and residential property incentives. PGA Members will also be able to access exclusive offers at select Banyan Tree Group destinations to enable them to host clients, including a 30% discount at the flagship, Banyan Tree Phuket.