Published On: Fri, Jul 5th, 2013

The Perform Group continues the takeover trail. This time: Opta Sports Data

The digital sports media have announced that they are to acquire Opta Sports Data, particularly active in the UK, for their soccer data service.  Perform Group will be paying around sixty million dollars for the company, the latest in a long line of acquisitions by Perform as they grow themselves to be among the most significant sports media companies in Europe.

LEN BALVATNIK 10

Len Blavatnik / Getty

/By Stanley Green/

Len Blavatnik, who made his multi-billion-dollar fortune in the aluminium industry, has been noticeably expanding his business activities in a number of the directions in recent years. The US based oligarch has shown his penchant towards the entertainment industry acquiring a number of the world’s leading companies including Warner  music.

In the background Blavatnik has been building up a significant shareholding Perform Group, who, in their own right, have become a significant force in the rapidly developing online sports media industry.

Within the last 18 months, the Perform Group has acquired three companies, with Opta Sports Data being the most recent. Other companies that have been acquired by the group are Mackolik, the largest digital sports business in Turkey as well as Switzerland-based RunningBall, another real-time sports data company.

The RunningBall acquisition was the largest ever struck to date by Perform, who paid out around $120 million for the company during 2012. RunningBall is one of Europe’s leading companies specializing in providing real-time data for sports events. During 2011 the company provided information on a total of 35, 000 sporting events, taking in more than 30, 000 football matches held mostly in mainland Europe.

Another important acquisition made during 2012 was Voetbalzone, a Dutch-based sports site boasting over 650, 000 unique users.

With the acquisition of Opta Sports Data, the Perform Group will now be able to provide comprehensive sports service for all of Europe, as well as a boost in turnover of around $18 million a year (£12.5 million) on current performance and around $2 million in profits before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization.

As well as the $60 million purchase price, Opta owners and managers could see their golden handshake be considerably increased thanks to a performance-based incentive program that could see them walk away a further $10 million if performance targets are met.

Currently around 80% Optic’s sales come from its media products division, engaged in the supply of real-time sports data to websites, broadcast feeds and databases. The rest comes from scouting services and a range of performance tools which they sell to professional football clubs, mostly based in the UK.

In the last financial year ending 31st of December 2012,  the Perform Group, reported stronger than expected full-year results due to the ever growing demand for international sports content, both from private consumers as well as online gaming websites.

Revenues for the year increased by close to 50% cent to $225 million (£151.6 million), while profits before tax rose by close to 400% to $25 million (£16.9 million). Subscription revenues increased 29 per cent to around $18 million (£12.3 million), thanks to the launch of mobile services both for their soccer orientated site Goal.com as well as specialist sports sites such as Tennistv.com.

Total subscribers for the group rose by 36 per cent to just over 510, 000. Industry analysts point out that close to 65% of the group’s turnover come from the provision of live sports video, news and data to other media groups and online bookmakers.

Video and display advertising sales rose 130 per cent to around $45 million (£32 million) in 2012, making up a fifth of the group’s total revenues. During 2013 , the Perform Group plan to implement and expand a service that will enable the company’s videos to be streamed on any Apple or Android mobile device as well as on a number of connected set-top boxes, gaming consoles and televisions.

The Perform Group was floated on the Financial Times stock exchange (FTSE 250) in 2011 with 43 per cent of its shares owned by Access Industries, the group through which Mr. Blavatnik controls his shareholdings. Blavatnik’s other investments include a significant stake in Rusal, the World’s leading  aluminum producer.

Shares in Perform fell 6 per cent to 475p in early morning trading on Wednesday.

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