An American consortium has bought a controlling share in the Durban-based Sharks rugby franchise.
MVM Holdings, headed by New York attorney Marco Masotti, has concluded a deal with the franchise that will see millions of dollars invested into rugby in KZN and South Africa in general, although the trade-off for the Sharks is that Masotti and his investors will command 51% control in the boardroom, eclipsing the combined share previously enjoyed by the Sharks and their partners SuperSport.
KZN Rugby and SuperSport will retain the remaining 49%.
The American investors are also heavily involved in professional sport in the USA, including basketball, ice hockey, and American football.
MVM Holdings first approached the Stormers/Western Province last year, but were unable to conclude a deal.
Masotti grew up in Amanzimtoti on the KZN south coast before studying law at The University of Natal.
“The response from (Sharks CEO) Eduard Coetzee was incredible,” he said. “The deal was concluded very quickly. What impressed us is that the Sharks are open-minded and hungry to embrace change and grow into the future, and we have so many exciting plans for developing the brand and growing the sport.”
Masotti said that among his first plans is to “put dollars into the business to help it through Covid and make exciting player acquisitions.”
Tellingly, Masotti added: “I intend to spend money to make money.”
While it is known that MVN Holdings approached Western Province with an offer of $6-million dollars, it is unknown what amount was agreed to with the Sharks.
Among Masotti’s partners is world-famous entrepreneur Michael Yormark of Roc Nation, the marketing company founded by rapper Jay-Z and which is a leader in the world of sports marketing, with the likes of South Africans Siya Kolisi, Cheslin Kolbe and Lungi Ngidi on their books.