European sports destination site Sports.com, a majority-owned subsidiary of SportsLine.com (Nasdaq: SPLN), announced today that it will raise $49 million (US$) in a second round of funding through the issuance of preferred stock.
The financing will be led by Sports Capital Partners — which manages the IMG/Chase Sports Capital funds — and affiliates of Soros Private Equity Partners, the investment firm affiliated with billonaire George Soros.
“We deliberately chose to be aligned with investors that have a solid understanding of the European marketplace to enable us to further develop our business,” said Michael Levy, chairman of Sports.com and chairman, president and CEO of SportsLine.com.
The funding will be used for working capital, expansion into other countries, marketing and advertising. Sports.com already covers sports in England, France, Ireland and Scotland.
Other investors that will participate in the second round of funding include media company Hicks, Muse Tate & Furst, Goldman Sachs and Wit Capital’s Arista Capital Partners.
Some of Sports.com’s existing shareholders will also participate in the new financing. Sports.com’s minority investors already include sports management firm IMG, Intel, MediaOne Ventures and Reuters.
Based on the proposed terms, the funding will represent about 23 percent of Sports.com’s valuation, giving Sports.com a worth of more than $200 million when the funding closes. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the year.
Sports.com launched its site in August, and the company is already billing itself as “the leading Internet-based provider of sports content in Europe.” Sports.com claims that it was averaging about one million page views per day in less than 100 days, according to audited results from ABC Electronic. These estimates make Sports.com the most-trafficked multi-country, multi-sport site in Europe.
“In a very short time, Sports.com has emerged as the leading Internet-based provider of sports content in Europe and it is still in the very early stages of its development,” said David S. Moross, managing partner of Sports Capital Partners.
In addition to operating its flagship site, Sports.com is the official Internet media partner of popular UK soccer team Manchester United and the official Rugby World Cup 1999 site.
Sports.com is also the primary sports content provider for Netscape Online UK, and the Financial Times’ Web site.