KKR Invests in Top Berlin Soccer Club to Give ‘Quantum Leap’

Jan 31, 2014 2:23 pm ET

(Adds comment from KKR in fourth paragraph.)

Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Private equity firm KKR & Co. agreed to invest 61.2 million euros ($82.6 million) in Hertha Berlin and will take a 9.7 percent stake in the German soccer club as part of the deal.

The Bundesliga team said on its website the investment will allow it to reduce its debt, cut costs and improve long-term planning. The deal provides a “quantum leap” for the team’s finances, Michael Preetz, the club’s managing director, was quoted as saying.

Der Spiegel magazine reported earlier that Hertha will use the funds from New York-based KKR to repay the bulk of its 37 million euros of loans and buy back marketing, television and catering rights.

“We look forward to the opportunity of supporting Hertha BSC as a long-term partner and believe in the significant potential of strengthening the club’s position both at home and abroad,” Johannes Huth, head of KKR Europe, said in the statement. KKR said the stake purchase is one of several components in the deal.

Bundesliga rules don’t allow investors to take management control of a team. Investors including Morgan Stanley have increased their combined stake in publicly traded Borussia Dortmund, another league team, to 30.4 percent from 5.5 percent since Sept. 30, 2012.

Dortmund, which lost to Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League final, is currently third in the Bundesliga standings behind Bayern and Bayer Leverkusen.

Top Berlin team Hertha, which is seventh, spent two of the past three seasons in the second division, returning to the elite level this campaign. Hertha’s Colombian striker Adrian Ramos is the league’s joint top scorer with 11 goals.

Hertha won its only national championships in 1930 and 1931. It plays in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, where African- American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the 1936 Games, infuriating Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

--Editors: Peter-Joseph Hegarty, Angela Cullen