Bermuda-based soccer fund sues after soccer investment

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  • Nicholas Hoskins, senior counsel and managing director of Wakefield Quin

    Nicholas Hoskins, senior counsel and managing director of Wakefield Quin

A Bermuda-based soccer fund is suing an international sports agency that specialises in football rights.

Local lawyer Nick Hoskins is the administrator of the Global Eleven soccer investment fund, whose backers include the son of an Italian count.

It is suing the Swiss agency Kentaro, saying it failed to return profits from matches played by five-time world champion Brazil.

“The company is currently in litigation with Kentaro for breach of contract and for non-payment of amounts due and ongoing under those contracts,” Global Eleven administrator Mr Hoskins, who is with the firm of Wakefield Quin, said in a statement to Bloomberg. “Until this matter is resolved, it isn’t possible to comment any further.”

According to Bloomberg, Global Eleven raised as much as $20 million to invest in marketing rights for exhibition games played by Brazil that Kentaro held until last year.

The fund also bet on the transfer rights of players from South America where groups lend money to teams in return for a stake in the sale price of athletes. The sport’s governing body is mulling whether to ban the practice.

Global Eleven’s suit against Kentaro seeks about $8 million in damages, said two people familiar with the matter.

Bloomberg reported most of the claim is linked to Brazil’s exhibition games, which Kentaro began promoting in 2006. The rest is tied to loan fees the fund allegedly should have been paid after players were placed with European teams, said the people, who asked not to be identified because of the pending case.

Kentaro Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Hill and company spokesman Johannes Berendt declined to comment.

Global Eleven was set up by Indoo Sella Di Monteluce, an Italian aristocrat, and Kentaro chief executive officer Philippe Huber, whose company is an investor. Iveagh Ltd, a London-based firm created to oversee the wealth of the Guinness brewing dynasty, was hired as investment manager in return for 2 percent of the fund’s net asset value. Iveagh spokesman Paul Wynne declined to comment. Sella Di Monteluce’s father, Count Nicolo Sella Di Monteluce, is a non-executive director at Iveagh, which also manages his family’s money.

London-based Syrian businessman Khaled Chehabi, a former Iveagh employee, helped double the fund’s size by attracting investment from the Abu Dhabi-based Baniyas Sports Club and Qatar-based conglomerate Ghanim Bin Saad Al Saad & Sons Group Holdings, two of the people said. The sports club’s president is United Arab Emirates Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

GSSG, named for its chairman Ghanim Bin Saad, the CEO of state-owned Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment Co, is the fund’s biggest investor after providing as much as $10 million.

Global Eleven’s player-investment business, which aimed to profit from betting on the increase in value for South American players, failed to make a profit from its investments, according to company documents obtained by Bloomberg.

Buying player rights carries significant risks, said Jochen Loesch, president of international business at Traffic Sports, one of soccer’s biggest investment funds. It spent more than $75 million on purchasing stakes since 2007.

“We have huge downside,” he said. “If the player isn’t sold, we don’t get a penny.”

According to Global Eleven documents, the fund has invested in nine players and has an agreement with Africa Soccer Developments, a youth academy in Cape Town, for a 50 percent share of any profits from player sales.

The biggest outlay was on Paraguayan attacking midfielder Rodrigo Rojas, 25. The “all-in cost” to acquire a 40 percent stake in Rojas was $909,000, with the remainder shared between his first team Club Olimpia and Argentine sports agency Full Play, according to company documents.

The fund’s minimum acceptable transfer price for Rojas was $2,775,974, according to the 2012 papers. Rojas now plays for Chilean team O’Higgins, which is paying $40,000 for the remaining 18 months of his contract. In 2011, he spent a few months with a lower-ranked team in Belgium, an entrance point for more lucrative European leagues for players from outside the continent.

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Published May 13, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated May 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm)

Bermuda-based soccer fund sues after soccer investment

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