London law firm Temple Bright has advised the owners of long-established North London rugby club, Saracens, on a complex deal involving a reorganisation of the Saracens Group, and a £32m equity investment led by Kimono House Limited. Completion of the deal, which was first announced in October 2021, follows the receipt of required approvals including from the RFU, PRL and the London Borough of Barnet.
The Saracens Group includes Saracens Rugby Club, Saracens Mavericks Limited (the owner of the Saracens Mavericks netball team), and Saracens Copthall LLP (the owner of the Stonex Stadium).
As a result of the deal a controlling stake in the Group passes to the Kimono House Limited, a consortium comprising a number of high profile business and sporting figures including: Dominic Silvester, Chief Executive Office of Enstar Group, a global insurance group; Neil Golding, the club’s chairman and a partner at Freshfields; Paul O’Shea, a director at Enstar; Francois Pienaar, a World Cup winning Captain and former Saracens player; Nick Leslau, Chairman and Chief Executive of Prestbury Investment Holdings; and Marco V. Masotti, a partner at Paul Weiss and an owner of South Africa’s Sharks rugby team.
The capital raised will be used to maintain the club’s position at the top of the men’s game and for a variety of other purposes, including completing the redevelopment of the West Stand; further investment in women’s sport; and the establishment of a high performance training centre.
Neil Golding said: “We move on from the recent challenges with hard lessons learned and with robust new governance procedures in place. We wish to thank the incredible fans and sponsors of Saracens for their continued support and we cannot wait to welcome the Saracens family back to the StoneX in the near future for our return to the Premiership. Dominic, Nick and Francois all have a long association with the club and we are delighted that they are committed to its future.”
Nigel Wray said: “I have given my heart and soul to the club for more than two decades, having chaired Saracens since the first days of professionalism. Sadly, I’m not getting any younger and I have always wanted to make sure that Saracens is in very safe hands for many future generations. To show our continued enthusiasm for the future of Saracens I will be retaining a significant minority shareholding albeit a passive one.”
He added: “I am thrilled to hand over control to the consortium which comprises people who I know well and who understand the culture we’ve been able to create over more than 20 years both on and off the field, particularly within the community through the Saracens Foundation and the Saracens Multi-Academy Trust. I am looking forward to becoming just a fan again and supporting the club I love whilst focusing more of my time on the pioneering work of our amazing Foundation and supporting the build out of the Saracens school programme.”
Dominic Silvester said: “The consortium members are making a long-term commitment to Saracens, with the new funds used to maintain the club’s position at the top of the game for the future. We also have an exciting longer-term vision to make the club a global market leader both on and off the field and we are well placed to deliver on this with our wide-ranging international experience.
“We want to also personally thank Nigel for all he has done for modern rugby and player welfare, more than perhaps any other single person. It is our privilege to take Saracens onto a new chapter and we intend to be every bit as ambitious and pioneering as Nigel has been.”
Kimono House Limited was advised by US and global law firm Mayer Brown. Temple Bright advised the Wray family and related entities. The Temple Bright team was led by corporate partner, Stuart Hutson. Also on the Temple Bright team were Nick Manassei (commercial and regulation), and David Sanson (real estate).
Saracens CEO Lucy Wray said: “The team at Temple Bright was led by Stuart Hutson, who introduced other partners for particular aspects. We were new clients of the firm and it was a pleasant surprise to deal only with partners. Stuart and his colleagues were impressive, on top of the detail and always joined up. We received knowledgeable, incisive and quick advice and we were better equipped in negotiations as a result.”
Stuart Hutson said: “We are delighted to have advised on this landmark deal for Saracens, which sets the course for an exciting next phase in the club’s long story. This was a highly complex transaction, which has involved a huge amount of work by all those involved over a two-year period, all in the midst of the pandemic. In addition to advising on the reorganisation of the Group and the new investment, Temple Bright has also led on obtaining regulatory consents from PRL, RFU, England Netball, Barnet Council, and Department of Media, Culture and Sport – this aspect ably led by my partner Nick Manassei. Despite the significant challenges which are inevitable in such a complex transaction, the process has been a pleasure throughout, owing to the professionalism of all parties and their advisers. We look forward to the rest of the season, which has already seen some great performances from all of the Saracens teams.”
Temple Bright co-founder Tim Summers said: “Congratulations to the Wray family and Saracens for successfully concluding this important deal. And well done to the Temple Bright team of Stuart, David and Nick for all their hard work in helping to get this over the line.”
Temple Bright was launched in 2010 using a tech-enabled, streamlined business model. The firm now has over 70 partners spread across offices in London and Bristol. The firm advises clients ranging from startups to PLCs across a range of sectors. It has particular strength in corporate transactions and has continued to advise on a large number of deals over the past two years despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.
This article appeared on the Bdaily website on 23 February 2022.