London-Based Jonathan Barnett's Stellar Group Could Be For Sale
The London-based agent who handled the world-record transfer of Gareth Bale, "a deal that helped make his agency the largest and most influential in Britain," has been in discussions about selling his company, according to Tariq Panja of the N.Y. TIMES. Jonathan Barnett of the Stellar Group confirmed the talks "after being asked about a prospectus" that was created by a firm "looking to raise funds for a purchase" valued at just over $100M. Barnett "had signed a short-term exclusivity agreement with the group, Star Search Ltd., but the sale fell apart" after the businessmen "failed to raise enough money to complete their purchase." Barnett said that he was "not in a hurry to sell the business," but set a price for it by saying that he would consider offers of more than £100M ($131.5M). Barnett: "There’s nothing there at the moment. If someone offers a ridiculous amount, they’ll be getting the best football agency in the world." Though the proposed sale appears to have failed, "the prospectus offered a glimpse at how Stellar has profited from rampant inflation" in the market for the Premier League's top talent. Enriched by record TV contracts, teams across England "have spent unprecedented amounts on player recruitment in recent years." In '16, the most recent year for which publicly disclosed financial statements are available, Barnett’s agency generated sales of nearly $27M, "almost double the amount from two years earlier." Barnett said, "It's getting better and better." News media reports "had linked Chinese businesses to a possible takeover of Stellar, but that talk has cooled" after the Chinese government began "a clampdown on companies' holding overseas sports assets." Barnett said that he has had "five or six approaches about a potential sale in recent months" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/8).