US firm agrees to buy stake in German soccer team Hertha

Nov 23, 2022, 3:34 PM | Updated: Nov 24, 2022, 5:35 am
Berlin's Davie Selke, center, celebrates after scoring his side's 2nd goal during the German Bundes...

Berlin's Davie Selke, center, celebrates after scoring his side's 2nd goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Bayern Munich in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

BERLIN (AP) — A U.S. investment firm has agreed on a deal to buy investor Lars Windhorst’s majority stake in Bundesliga soccer team Hertha Berlin.

Miami-based 777 Partners said it agreed to buy the 64.7 percent stake in Hertha’s company structure from Windhorst’s firm Tennor, subject to approval from Hertha’s board and the German league.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Hertha BSC and look forward to engaging with the club and its stakeholders,” Josh Wander, founder and managing partner of 777 Partners, said in a statement.

“As a founding member of Bundesliga, Hertha BSC is one of the most important and historic football clubs in Germany. We are eager to gain approval of the club’s stakeholders so that we can provide Hertha with access to our world-class team of professionals to support the club’s continued success on and off the pitch.”

Windhorst said in the statement that 777 Partners would bring “not only financial strengths but a lot of professionalism, great expertise and an impressive international network of football clubs across Europe, the Americas and Australia.”

Italy’s oldest club, Genoa, was sold to 777 Partners last year. The firm also holds a stake in Spanish club Sevilla and owns clubs in Belgium, France and Brazil, as well as a minority share in Australia’s Melbourne Victory.

Windhorst owns a majority share of the Hertha company but his voting rights are restricted under the Bundesliga’s 50+1 rule to limit the influence of outside investors. The rule means club members must retain a majority of voting rights.

Windhorst first bought into Hertha in 2019 and invested a total 374 million euros ($389 million) since then, but the relationship with the club’s management broke down. Windhorst said last month he would no longer provide financial support and offered the club the chance to buy out his stake.

Hertha is one of Germany’s oldest and best-known clubs and plays at the Olympiastadion, which held the 2006 World Cup final and will host the final of the European Championship in 2024.

Despite Windhorst’s ambition to turn Hertha into one of Europe’s top teams, it has failed to convert his financial backing into success on the field. Hertha stayed in the top division last season only after a relegation playoff and is 15th in the 18-team league, which is on an extended winter break due to the World Cup in Qatar.

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US firm agrees to buy stake in German soccer team Hertha