Exclusive-JPMorgan looking to finance Italy's Serie A for up to 1 billion euros -sources

A person enters the JPMorgan Chase & Co. New York Head Quarters in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., June 30, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

MILAN (Reuters) -JPMorgan Chase & Co has written to Italy's top soccer league to express a preliminary interest in supporting the development of Serie A's media business, three people close to the matter said.

The sources said the 20 clubs which comprise Serie A were informed of the interest by the U.S. bank at a closed-door meeting of their top executives on Thursday.

JPMorgan is expected to be able to provide between 700 million ($761 million) and 1 billion euros in bank financing, one of the people said speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions are not public.

The person said the rights would be the collateral backing JPMorgan's financing. JPMorgan and Serie A both declined to comment.

Serie A has been looking at options to extract more money from its media rights, which account for roughly half the revenues of its clubs.

Like other European soccer leagues, Serie A lags behind England's Premier League in terms of income and is looking at ways to revive its global appeal.

Back in 2021 JPMorgan had offered to support soccer clubs looking to launch a breakaway European Super League, a plan which collapsed due to a storm of protest from fans and politicians.

In exploring ways to boost revenues, Serie A clubs have been discussing the creation of a media unit, a move which could pave the way for external investors to take a slice of this key business.

After previous attempts by investment funds to reach a deal with Serie A over its media business failed, New York-based Searchlight Capital together with a group of funds led by Carlyle Group Inc expressed a preliminary interest in buying into Serie A's broadcasting rights in late 2022.

The sources said Serie A clubs learnt on Thursday that Apollo Global Management also had come forward, adding they would assess in the coming weeks how to proceed in relation to the interest expressed by both the funds and JPMorgan.

Apollo declined to comment.

Interest for Serie A comes at a time when Italian soccer has been rocked by the troubles of its most successful club, Juventus FC, which is under investigation by prosecutors over its financial accounts and was docked 15 points by Italian soccer authorities last week. Juventus have denied any wrongdoing.

($1 = 0.9202 euros)

(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Additional reporting and writing by Valentina Za; Editing by Alvise Armellini and Diane Craft)

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