The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer

Robert Müller von Vultejus, “From UFA, Lagardere To SPORTFIVE Again”

October 16, 2020

Robert Müller von Vultejus has been on the forefront of Sports Marketing for decades, as would appear in many different companies, but in reality, these groups were often an “iteration” of previous legacy businesses.  Operating for 25 years from Hamburg, Germany, Robert gives us a great inside look into all the companies and is now one of the key executives to take Sportfive 2.0 back to its glory days globally.  Listen to his fascinating career and stories across UFA Sports 1.0, Sportfive 1.0,  Lagardere, UFA Sports 2.0 to now Sportfive 2.0 again.

Key Higlights

  1. Robert's start into the industry, studied Sports Management in Bayreuth, while studying and DJ-ing started his first agency
  2. UFA Sports 1.0,  in Hamburg,  his boss Bernd Hoffman, ownership by Bertelsmann Group/RTL - the old Media Rights arbitrage game, buy/sell rights
  3. Merger of UFA Sports with Sport + (Sports marketing arm of Canal+) and  Jean Claude Darmon (French sports marketing group) – new group called Sportfive, managing the German and French culture -  lasted a few years and was sold again to Advent (US PE Group). Opportunity for management to participate in deal.
  4. New focus on “Comprehensive Marketing” of 25 Football Clubs in Europe
  5. Different models of upfront guarantees and other facilities to clubs and rights holders – mostly internally funded based on EBIT of Euro 90-100 mil
  6. Next sale to Lagardere Group (French again) for EURO 860 million (US$ 1 b)  - good move from a shareholder point of view, but company culture suffered (entire senior management left)
  7. UFA Sports 2.0, starting again with the team that left Lagardere Sports and found RTL as investors again
  8. New way of working with rights holders, open book, more transparent way – helped to grow the new business , starting in 2008 during the global financial crisis
  9. Sold UFA Sports 2.0 to Lagardere Sports (RTL was looking to exit, change in strategy)  - initially Lagardere was black listed until discussion with Philipp Hasenbein changed the view
  10. Lagardere, where did it all go wrong. Multiple reasons ……. And Recently sold for a fraction of the original value to HIG Capital
  11. Sportfive 2.0 (after the purchase by HIG Capital), reason to go back to the old name, 1,000 strong team with offices in Germany and across Europe, US, Asia
  12. Focus on Selling, still strong portfolio across the regions from rights representation to talent business and consulting
  13. Strong believe that the Agency business is still very important in the ecosystem but a new approach is needed  
  14. Sportfive in Esports – RIOT Games tournaments in Europe, T1 from Korea
  15. Career highlights and worst moments
  16. His view on sports going forward after Covid and during the pandemic

About

Robert Müller von Vultejus, born in 1969, graduated in sports economics at the University of Bayreuth in 1994. He started his professional career at UFA Sports GmbH as a manager in media rights marketing in the same year. From 1997 to 2002, Müller von Vultejus was responsible for the European football business as a member of the management board. In 2001, UFA Sports was renamed Sportfive and Müller von Vultejus was appointed Managing Director with responsibility for the German business.

In December 2007, Robert Müller von Vultejus left the Sportfive Group and in 2008, together with former high-ranking Sportfive managers, he founded a startup company named UFA Sports, later renamed U!Sports GmbH. The start-up was bought by the Lagardère Sports Group in 2015 and became part of the global network of Lagardère Sports and Entertainment. In addition to his role as Managing Director of Lagardère Sports Germany, Robert Müller von Vultejus continued to be Managing Director of U!Sports and moreover was responsible for the European Business Development Unit of Lagardère Sports and Entertainment. In April 2020, Lagardère Sports and Entertainment was sold to H.I.G. Capital.

In 2020, Müller von Vultejus has been appointed Chief Growth Officer (CGO) and is one of four members of the Executive Committee of the international sports business agency SPORTFIVE. Müller von Vultejus is a family man, plays tennis and has a preference for fitness, nutrition and cooking. He is married, father of four children and lives with his family in Hamburg.

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