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Transatlantic M&A

DAZN-Perform case study

Binding the worlds of sport, media and data.

Over recent years, we have augmented our world-leading M&A skills with an understanding of how data can be critical to a deal's success.

Recognising these capabilities, DAZN Group asked us to help with a disposal that would help streamline its business.

The parties

Access Industries-owned DAZN wanted to sell – but retain a significant stake in – UK-based Perform Content.

DAZN is a global live and on-demand sport streaming service. Perform owns brands such as RunningBall, Watch&Bet and Opta, which provide content and data to media and betting companies, fantasy sports operators, professional teams and umbrella sporting organisations.

The buyer was US-based STATS, a leader in sports artificial intelligence (AI). STATS is a portfolio company of Vista Equity Partners, an investment firm that focuses on enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses, and one of the world’s leading investors in tech companies.

The deal rationale

DAZN wanted to sell Perform in order to focus on building its internet streaming services and become the ‘Netflix of sports’.

But anticipating continued growth in the sports data market, DAZN wanted to retain a stake in the new entity, which would combine STATS’ world-class AI expertise with both companies’ archives to create a huge mass of sports data.

It was hoped that pairing this information with leading AI solutions would accelerate innovation in the world of sports data. For example, the new entity could generate machine-learning predictions to improve team performance and player evaluation, automate insights to enrich storytelling for broadcasters and sports technology, and create new data to provide betting operators with ever more player propositions and better predictions of sports outcomes.

Prepping Perform

This deal involved running over 40 legal workstreams using a team of up to 70 people, which includes legal support staff in the Freshfields Hub.

We began by reorganising the Perform Content business so that it was ready for sale. This involved due diligence work (including employment, IP, pensions and property) in 30 countries, which meant using a number of our partner firms.

We also took the unusual step (for a law firm) of creating a 130-page memorandum on business to bidders. The document explained the reorganisation and how Perform Content would be separated from the DAZN business so that it was ready for sale. This helped to the volume of queries from bidders and dramatically condense the negotiation period.

Assessing STATS

Given that Access was to retain a stake in the new entity, we used the Hub’s AI capabilities to support the reverse due diligence process into the STATS business, including into its AI patent portfolio and customer base.

We also used the Hub to help negotiate agreements with sports-rights holders, customers and vendors so that the business could operate on a standalone basis. This meant, for example, reviewing contracts with global names such as Bundesliga (the German football league), La Liga (the Spanish football league) and the International Basketball Federation.

Once the business was ready for sale, we ran a competitive auction process that initially involved negotiating 62 non-disclosure agreements with prospective buyers, such was the interest in Perform.

Finally, we drafted the commercial and IP agreements that govern the governing the relationship between Vista and Access, and their ownership of the combined business.

Stats Perform is born

A mere three months after DAZN announced that it intended to sell Perform, the deal completed with the birth of the new entity, Stats Perform. For DAZN, it could now better focus on sports content distribution but still have a significant interest in a company placing data at the heart of sports-related entertainment.

Ben Barlow, DAZN Group’s general counsel, described our team as ‘strategic, professional and able to cover all bases across the globe, from the UK, US and beyond. We could not have asked for more.’