Supercars officially for sale
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Australia's third biggest sport is officially up for sale with the majority owner of Supercars slapping a $100m plus price tag on the V8 powered national icon.
Five corporations including News Corp Australia, publisher of The Daily Telegraph and parent company of Fox Sports, have already registered an interest' in the sale of Archer Capital's majority stake in Supercars.
It can be also revealed major event and entertainment companies Sports Entertainment Limited (SEL) and TEG, which owns Ticketek, are also in the race.
Archer Capital, one of Australia's top-performing private equity firms, has contracted international investment bank UBS to sell its 65 per cent stake in the business.
Supercars' team owners were last month told Archer Capital was pressing ahead with the sale of its majority stake in the business.
Supercars chief executive James Warburton confirmed Archer had officially began the process of selling its 65 per cent ownership.
The 26 Racing Entitlement Contract (REC) owners hold the remaining 35 per cent stake in Supercars.
"Supercars is in a sustained period of high growth with a very clear vision for the next decade," Warburton said.
"Our focus is the continued growth of a thriving business, renowned international motorsport category and tier-one Australian mainstream sport.
"We are well within reach of our ambition to be one of the leading three sports in this country and to expand our Championship into Asia."
UBS has being busy conducting detailed presentations to Australian companies resulting in five submissions of interest in the sale. However, it is uncertain whether News Corp Australia and Fox Sports will make an offer to buy Archer Capital's majority stake.
As the broadcast rights holder through its six-year deal with Fox Sports, there is not a great imperative for News Corp to buy Supercars It is understood Channel Ten, which simulcasts several major race events in the Supercars calendar, is out of the mix.
Archer Capital bought a 65 per cent share in 2011 for a reported $180 million from Sports Entertainment Limited and Supercars team's owners.
Although Archer Capital has put a $100m price tag on its stake, it is believed $70m-$80m was a more realistic valuation.
But record television figures, a growing audience and international expansion plans could drive the figure higher with further bidders expected to join the five.
Supercars TV cumulative audience has grown by 43 per cent over the last three years with more than 65 million viewers in 2016.
The state-of-the-art Fox Sports coverage has resulted in the Supercars championship being beamed to 263 million viewers worldwide. Fox Sports' coverage is the pay TV provider's third most viewed sport behind NRL and AFL.
Archer founding partner and Supercars chairman Peter Wiggs has been advising team owners, who retain a non-controlling 35 per cent stake in the sport.
Supercars team owners have not ruled out forming an alliance and making a bid to retain control of the sport after selling their majority stake to Archer in 2011.
A number of the current team owners are self-made business entrepreneurs with the financial clout to make a play to buy the sport.
Among the most influential are Triple Eight Race Engineering boss Roland Dane, Westfield's heiress Betty Klimenko, Holden Special Vehicles owner Ryan Walkinshaw and US billionaire Roger Penske.
Archer is selling Supercars as part of a parcel of investments that has now matured and will return a significant return to its investors.