CVC Capital Partners will invest $150M for a 20% stake in WTA Ventures
Content warning: This section contains mention of sexual assault.
The GIST: It’s a rich woman’s world for the WTA. Yesterday, it announced a long-awaited strategic partnership with CVC Capital Partners, who will invest $150M for a 20% stake in WTA Ventures, the organization’s new commercial strategy arm.
The investor: Luxembourg-based CVC owned Formula One until 2017 and has returned to sports in a major way. It bought a 10% share in the commercial division of Spain’s La Liga for $2B in 2021, acquired an Indian Premier League cricket franchise for over $700M and nabbed a 14.3% stake in the Six Nations rugby tourney for around $500M.
- As for CVC’s newest acquisition, WTA Ventures is a subsidiary of the tennis organization that manages its commercial activities. CVC will have two seats on WTA Ventures' board but hold no formal WTA role otherwise.
The details: CVC funds will increase prize money and bankroll the WTA’s marketing efforts. WTA Ventures will specifically handle the tennis tour’s broadcasting and marketing operations, while CVC plans to help with brand building for the WTA and its players.
The context: New investment means a new chance to bridge the gender gap. The WTA rakes in lower commercial revenue than the ATP, and its players earn less — with the exception of Grand Slams, male tennis players made about 70% more than their female counterparts last year. Double fault.
- The injection of cash also comes after the WTA left China in 2021 following the disappearance of Peng Shuai and walked away from over $120M in the process. However, according to the WTA, its alliance with CVC is unrelated to lost revenue from China.
The next steps: In the short term, the WTA will make a decision this month on a host for the WTA Finals. The event was originally planned for China, but seems unlikely given that the tour pledged only to return to the country once it has direct contact with Peng and following a full investigation into her sexual assault allegations. Little progress has been made.
- As for the long-term vision, CVC continues to flirt with the idea of uniting the WTA and ATP to maximize profits. Though a deal isn’t officially on the table, all parties seem open to the idea.
Zooming out: There’s no time like the present to invest in the WTA — tennis attracts 1B fans globally, and the women’s tennis fanbase tends to skew younger. Plus, participation rates are soaring in communities of color in the States and the sport is cultivating new stars with Netflix’s Break Point. It’s an ace.