Chinese investors sue Radrizzani and Silva over MP & Silva collapse
A consortium of Chinese investors in MP & Silva, the international sports marketing agency that was wound up after a ruling by the UK High Court’s Bankruptcy Court last October, is suing Riccardo Silva and Andrea Radrizzani, the founders of the agency, after losing hundreds of millions of dollars.
The consortium, including state-owned Everbright Securities, filed a claim in the High Court in London, alleging commercial fraud, according to a legal filing.
The move is likely to be regarded as rubbing salt into the wound by Silva and Radrizzani (pictured) who have claimed that MP & Silva was financially ‘paralysed’ by a lack of support from Everbright and Baofeng, another Chinese investor.
Sources close to the issue told Bloomberg that Silva and Radrizzani blame the collapse on the failure of its new owners to grasp the complexities of the industry and to retain experienced deal-makers. Between the $1-billion acquisition by the Chinese investors in 2016 and the collapse, the company went through three chief executives and failed to participate in an emergency rights issue last summer, the sources pointed out.
MP & Silva was wound up after a petition was lodged by the French Tennis Federation, which claimed to be owed millions in rights fee payments as one of several rights-holders to have terminated its media rights sales agreement with the agency.
Two supporting creditors joined the FFT action brought against MP & Silva, one of them being Jochen Lösch, the former chief executive, who was replaced by Seamus O’Brien, albeit Lösch was retained in a consultancy role.
Any remaining MP & Silva assets were never likely to be sizeable, given that the agency – unlike its rivals IMG and Infront – did not have physical assets such as broadcast equipment and facilities at its disposal.
Everbright and Baofeng teamed up in 2016 to secure a joint 65-per-cent stake in MP & Silva, leaving the remaining 35 per cent divided between founders Silva, Radrizzani and Carlo Pozzali, as well as members of the management team.
However, operations at Baofeng were drastically scaled down after the investment, leaving Everbright to effectively take control from a shareholder perspective, but displaying little appetite to support the agency amid a Chinese government crackdown on foreign spending on sport.
Radrizzani retains a high-profile role in sport as chairman of Leeds United, which are presently lying third in English soccer’s second-tier Championship, while Silva owns the Florida-based team Miami FC.