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Sportsworld Acquires New Zealand Presence

July 1, 2001

Global media company Sportsworld Media Group PLC has established a presence in the New Zealand market, acquiring Uplink Sport, New Zealand’s largest independent producer of sports television for $7 million.

The new entity Sportsworld Media Group New Zealand Ltd (SMG NZ) will continue Uplink’s business activities, and has plans to extend to the full suite of media services offered by Sportsworld internationally, including media sales, corporate hospitality and event management.

“Uplink Sport is in many ways is a microcosm of Sportsworld. They have built a great business and developed a strong relationship with broadcasters and marketers. The people fit is superb. We recognise NZ as relatively small but highly innovative market,” said Michael Gower, CEO of Sportsworld Media Group Asia Pacific.

“The acquisition of Uplink Sport and the resultant formation of SMG NZ is a key part of our business development in this region,” he said.

Both companies have specialised in sponsor branded sports television – a burgeoning region of broadcasting as companies look to invest within programming, rather than within advertising breaks.

Sportsworld is one of the world’s largest sports marketing companies with a market capitalisation on the London FTSE of $NZ1.2 billion.

It specialises in sports broadcasting, media rights and events. Its entertainment division holds a share in the international rights to “Popstars” and “Search for a Supermodel”. It also owns the rights to the ITU triathlon and the ASP world surf tour.

New Zealand becomes Sportsworld’s eighth point of market presence around the world. It has offices in Australia, the USA, the United Kingdom, Dubai, Canada, The Philippines and France.

Sportsworld Australia owns the country’s biggest sports player management company, outdoor signage company, and a large media company that represents TVNZ in Australia.

Sportsworld New Zealand managing director Greg Peters said the acquisition would allow the company to share content on a global scale, and made world class content more readily available to New Zealand clients.

“It provides us with capital to pursue new projects and possible acquisitions in New Zealand,” he said.

Uplink Sport was launched five years ago by television producer Philip Smith and television sports commentator Phillip Leishman. It creates television programmes for broadcasters in New Zealand and internationally, including ‘The Armstrong Jones Golf Show’ and ‘House of Football’ and ESPN’s ‘Golf Globe’.

Last year former head of sports marketing at TVNZ Kelsen Butler joined the company as head of Marketing, and Greg Peters joined soon after as Chief Financial Officer. Both took a shareholding in the company.

Philip Smith takes up a post as Head of Television for Sportsworld New Zealand. Phillip Leishman becomes General Manager Golf Development and Kelsen Butler becomes General Manager Golf Sales and Marketing.

The Sportsworld deal involves around $7 million in cash and shares over the next three years.

Mr Smith said Uplink’s decision to sell to Sportsworld reflected global media realities.

“The international trend is for acquisition, content sharing, globalisation. Successful media players will, increasingly, share a relationship with a major global player. This gives us to opportunity to move the business to a more significant level.”


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