MML and SIP are investing £16.5 million, with the deal being the first for SIP since it lost out in its bid to buy the UK bookmaker Tote in 2011.
According to Cambridgeshire-based Arena the deal provides it with both equity and the experience of new chairman Matthew Wheeler, a ‘senior figure’ in the sports marketing industry and managing partner of SIP.
Wheeler has experience in chairing six private equity-backed businesses in the sports and media sector, from investment through to exit, and is a former professional cricketer with Northants CCC.
Greg Lawless, CEO of Arena Group, comments, ‘It gives us great flexibility at a time when we are looking to expand beyond our current bases in the UK, Portugal, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Dubai to reach excellent new opportunities in the Far East.’
New appointments to Arena Group, as well as Wheeler, include Martin Broughton, former chairman of Liverpool FC and John Connolly, former global chairman of Deloitte and senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte UK.
Bal Johal and Luke Jones led the deal for MML. Johal adds, ‘In Arena we quickly recognised an essential and high quality service led by a strong management team in a fast growing sector.
‘The way the deal has been structured with SIP’s support and involvement makes this a very exciting opportunity.’