Viaplay shareholders approve financial restructuring plan

12 January 2024 Consultancy.uk 2 min. read

The online sports broadcaster which holds the rights to Scotland’s League Cup and URC Rugby has approved a restructuring plan, with new joint-majority owners. Viaplay’s lenders previously appointed external advisors from FTI Consulting to help with negotiations over the company’s debt burden.

Launched in May 2007 under the banner of Viasat On Demand, Viaplay rebranded in 2011, and has since enjoyed a meteoric rise as a broadcaster of international sport. As of 2021, it was available in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Iceland and Poland, and rolled out into Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands in November 2022 – followed by Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the US by 2023.

As the mother company Viaplay Group holds extensive sports rights in multiple markets, Viaplay provides sports broadcasts in most countries where it operates. For example, in the Netherlands, it is the exclusive broadcaster of Formula 1 races, while in Scotland, it became the broadcaster of matches involving the Scottish men’s national football team, and gained naming rights to Scotland’s League Cup, which it also broadcasts.

Viaplay shareholders approve financial restructuring plan

However, amid the firm’s huge growth, it seems to have over-stretched its resources. In July 2023, it was announced that Viaplay would lay off 25% of staff while pursuing a new strategy to focus on its core Nordic, Netherlands and Viaplay Select operations. This also meant the firm would exit the Baltic markets, and the UK – though its deal with the Scottish League Cup will run until 2028.

Months later, Viaplay’s lenders also appointed advisors from FTI Consulting to help with negotiations over the company’s debt burden. Brought on board by banks that loaned money to Viaplay, the professionals engaged in talks with Viaplay over potential breaches of covenants that would affect access to some committed credit lines. It was also announced that Viaplay is also in discussions with bondholders at the time.

Since then the struggling Swedish streamer has seen a number of companies increase their stake in the media group following a collapse in its share price, while remaining shareholders have been left with shares that are worth virtually nothing.

Now, as the firm looks to turn things around, its shareholders have agreed that Canal+, owned by the French media group Vivendi, and the Czech investment company PPF will take a joint-majority interest of 58.6% in Viaplay. The targeted share issue for those two investors amounts to approximately €277 million – a move which is hoped to help Viaplay become profitable.