Verhaeghe and co. concreting power at Club Brugge

Small investors who want to invest in Club Brugge should not expect to gain control over how the football club is run.

Blauw-Zwart chooses to introduce double voting rights for its historical owners when it goes public. This is evident from the information bundle of the operation. Anyone who has been a shareholder for more than two years – including the group around chairman Bart Verhaeghe – therefore has two votes per share.

With that system, historic shareholders can continue to weigh in on strategic decisions (capital increases and decreases, splits, mergers, etc.) even if their stake falls below the 50 percent threshold.

According to experts, Club Brugge is the first Belgian company to introduce such a double voting right during an IPO. In our country, listed companies such as Tessenderlo, Picanol, IBA and GBL have already introduced it. The tech giants Google and Facebook also have similar structures with double or multiple voting rights.

Ticker ‘CLUB’

Small investors should not expect to gain any control over the way Club Brugge is managed.

The Belgian national champion will travel to Euronext Brussels on March 26 under the name ‘CLUB’ at 17.5 to 22.5 euros per share. Club Brugge values ​​that range at a maximum of 258 million euros, a lot less than the price at which bankers put the club on the market. This is an indication that the surveyed major investors do not see Club as a ‘normal’ company with recurring profits and did not take advantage of that high price. Investors can still buy shares until March 25.

The shareholder group around Bart Verhaeghe will sell between 30 and 40 percent of the Club shares at the IPO. Their joint interest will fall from 94.34 to 53.6 to 66 percent. Verhaeghe and co. have prospects of a yield of 57 to 105 million euros.

Entertainment company

Club does not market itself as a football company. It sees itself as a broader sports, media and entertainment company. ‘We are the largest event organizer in the country. We organize an event with 30,000 spectators at least 25 times a year, ‘the top trio said in an interview. They do not shy away from comparison with companies such as Studio 100 and Kinepolis. ‘But our model is more robust.’

Crucial for Club Brugge is whether it can keep its profit engine going in a volatile environment. Disappointing sports performances threaten to put pressure on the four cash flows: competition-related income, sponsorship deals and merchandising, media rights and transfers. Club aims to boost its recurring annual revenues with a new stadium due to be completed in 2023. It is striking that Club increasingly regards transfers as recurring. It sees itself capable of growing into a purveyor to the major European competitions. In the last three seasons, Club had a net profit of 81 million in transfers.

In the risks for investors, Club mentions the possible disappearance of the favorable social and fiscal regime for football players. “That can make us less attractive to talented players and have a negative impact on financial performance,” he said.

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