US investor KKR takes stake in Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 31.01.2014
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US investor KKR takes stake in Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin

German Bundesliga soccer club Hertha Berlin has found an investor to help it get on top of its current financial problems. Managers confirmed US private equity company KKR was taking a stake in the club.

US buyout group KRR had struck a deal to take a roughly 10-percent stake in Berlin's first-division soccer club Hertha Berlin, team managers confirmed Friday.

Reuters reported KKR would directly invest about 60 million euros ($81.38 million) and take unspecified additional steps to strengthen Hertha's finances. The news agency added that KKR would also buy back some marketing and catering rights the club had been forced to sell to plug holes in its budget.

Following the 2012/2013 season, the Berlin club's debt load amounted to 36.8 million euros, with a fair amount of KKR investment to go into paying back creditors. Known officially as Hertha BSC (with the abbreviation standing for "Berlin Sports Club"), the club won the German second division title and returned to the Bundesliga under coach Jos Luhukay last season.

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According to Spiegel Online, the strategic partnership between KKR and Hertha - currently ranking an impressive seventh in its return to the top flight - was to last at least seven years.

Club managers made a point of emphasizing the US investor's shot in the arm did not mean it was aiming to influence any sport-related issues such as activities on the transfer market.

"The purpose of the deal is solely to professionalize Hertha BSC's business and catch up with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund," Reuters cited an undisclosed source, as saying.

KKR's portfolio includes about 80 companies with a total turnover of more than $200 billion.

The buyout firm was reported to have an option of securing a stake of up to 33 percent in Hertha at a later stage.

hg/msh (dpa, Reuters)

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