By Chris Katje
Soccer superstar Lionel Messi recently joined Major League Soccer (MLS) team Inter Miami — a move that surprised sports fans around the world.
In his first four games with Inter Miami, Messi scored seven goals and helped the team advance to the quarterfinals of the Leagues Cup.
Here’s a look at a publicly traded company that can benefit from Messi’s success and Inter Miami going forward.
Ares Management Corp (NYSE: ARES) recently took a $75 million preferred equity stake in Inter Miami. This was Ares’s second investment (the first was back in September 2021).
The terms of the preferred equity stake structure were not disclosed. Ares invested $150 million in preferred equity in the team in 2021.
“Ares has been an important collaborator over the last two years in helping to accelerate the growth of Inter Miami,” said Miami co-owner Jorge Mas in a statement, shared by Sportico. “This latest investment comes at an inflection point for the club with the planned development of our new stadium and the joining of Lionel Messi, among other key initiatives.”
Messi, who made his debut for Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup with Inter Miami facing off against Cruz Azul on July 21, will earn $150 million in salary over two and a half years, along with additional potential compensation.
Sportico valued Inter Miami at $585 million in 2022, ranking the team 10th of the 28 MLS teams at the time. Since then, Messi has helped his team continue to find ways to advance in the Leagues Cup, boosting jersey sales, ticket prices and social media engagement.
All of these items could point to an increased valuation for Inter Miami in years to come.
Mas predicts that the team could be worth $1.5 billion in the next year and rank as the most valuable MLS team. “Revenue for the team will double in the next 12 months,” said the Inter Miami co-owner.
The original investment in Inter Miami by Ares is said to be the first private equity stake in an MLS franchise. The MLS allows teams to count institutional funds as investors, with the investments being passive minority stakes and 20% or under.
Each team can sell up to 30% to institutional funds. No institutional fund can invest in four or more teams.
Ares, which touts a $30 billion market capitalization, has been involved in financing for other soccer teams in recent years, including the Olympique Lyonnais takeover and a link to the takeover of English Premier League team Chelsea, according to SportsProMedia.
The Ares stake in Inter Miami gives investors and Messi fans a way to invest alongside the superstar’s success with the team. The Ares stake in Inter Miami is likely to represent a small portion of its overall portfolio.
Other companies that could benefit from Messi’s move to the MLS include Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) and MGO Global Inc (NASDAQ: MGOL). Apple has the exclusive rights to MLS games as part of a 10-year deal and is selling the MLS Season Pass as an add-on to subscribers for access to all games.
MGO Global manages the online Messi store and could see an increase in revenue as merchandise for the superstar sees increased attention.
Zenger News previously reported on asset manager Blue Owl Capital (NYSE: OWL), which owns stakes in several NBA teams, including the Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings. The firm previously held a stake in the Phoenix Suns, which it sold for a gain.
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