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Sir Martin Broughton's firm inks debut deal

Sir Martin Broughton, the former chairman of Liverpool FC, has chalked up his first private equity investment with the purchase of events management company the Arena Group with MML Capital.

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Sir Martin Broughton

Sir Martin Broughton, the former chairman of Liverpool FC, has chalked up his first private equity investment with the purchase of events management company the Arena Group with MML Capital. 

His firm Sports Investment Partners has invested £1.5m alongside MML, which contributed the bulk of the total £16.5m investment. 

Arena provides seating, interiors and management for sporting, broadcast, music and live events and has bases in the UK, Portugal, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Dubai. 

Sports Investment Partners hopes to offer Broughton's industry expertise, the British Airways chairman having overseen the sale of Liverpool to New England Sports Ventures for £300m in 2010. 

Broughton's private equity firm narrowly lost out to Betfred in the hotly contested auction for former state-owned bookmaker the Tote last summer. 

The firm was tipped to take the Tote after receiving backing from the horse racing industry, but rival bidder Betfred walked away with the betting agency after agreeing to pay £265m (€298.2m). 

As well as Broughton, Sports Investment counts Matthew Wheeler as a managing partner. A former professional cricketer with Northants, Wheeler sits on the board of the Professional Cricket Association and has chaired six private equity-backed businesses in sports and media. 

Sport has held up well in the last three years while the economy has languished, with stable attendance and viewing figures, sponsorship deals and media rights contracts, while anticipation for the London 2012 Olympics is mounting. 

Read our exclusive interview with Sir Martin Broughton.

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