US private equity group 777 Partners has agreed to buy a majority stake in Hertha Berlin from Lars Windhorst in what would be the largest foreign investment in a German football club.
The two parties did not disclose the size of the deal, which is subject to the approvals of both the club and DFL, the German football league.
Windhorst, a flamboyant but controversial German financier, paid €374mn for his shares in Hertha between 2019 and 2021, but the stake does not confer control of the club’s day-to-day business as DFL restricts the influence of external investors.
Hertha on Thursday said it welcomed the news, adding that it would evaluate the buyer in line with the contractual agreement.
Hertha has the right to turn down investors under certain conditions, according to people familiar with the matter.
DFL declined to comment.
Lossmaking Hertha last season narrowly avoided relegation from Germany’s top tier and currently lies fourth from the bottom of the Bundesliga.
777 Partners, which was founded in 2015 and has $10bn in assets under management, said in a statement it was “excited” to become a co-owner of one of the most important and historic football clubs in Germany”, adding it looked forward “to engaging with the club and its stakeholders”.
Windhorst described 777 Partners as a “well-known international football investor” with “a lot of professionalism, great expertise and an impressive international network of football clubs”, promising that Hertha would “benefit immensely” from the new shareholder.
Windhorst last month announced he wanted to terminate his involvement with the football club after Hertha launched an investigation into allegations, which the financier denies, that he hired corporate spies to try to force out the club’s president.
“After careful consideration and evaluation of the last three months, we unfortunately conclude that there will be no basis and no perspective for a successful economic co-operation” between his Tennor Holding group and Hertha, Windhorst wrote on his Facebook page.
A successful sale would cap Windhorst’s three-year foray into Bundesliga football.
When he acquired his stake, Tennor said the Hertha deal was not a trophy investment but driven by financial considerations as the club had significant business potential.
However, Hertha spent a lot of the Windhorst cash on expensive new players who did not perform as expected, while the club and the wider Bundesliga have been hit by the pandemic.