Sport Webcaster Perform Group ‘Surprised’ By IPO Talk

Last month, Reuters (NYSE: TRI) reported that UK-based sports webcaster Perform Group was considering a public flotation. Yesterday, The Sunday Times reported (via Reuters) it’s hired Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse to manage a New Year IPO to raise up to £200 ($312.41) million.

Perform Group tells paidContent:UK: “We have seen the news today and it comes as a bit of a surprise. As one of Europe’s largest growing digital businesses and market-leaders in the digital sports sector, there is occasionally some speculation around us, and this is just that… speculation.”

But surprise doesn’t necessarily mean the reports are incorrect – when asked if they are, Perform declined to comment.

In 2009, the last year for which accounts are available, Perform swung from a £3.7 ($5.78) million loss to an £11.3 ($17.66) million profit, on 71 percent higher revenue of £48.4 ($75.61) million.

Here’s what we do know – Perform is going places. Formerly called Premium TV and merged with Inform Group in 2007 to create Perform, the business, owned by Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik, holds web video contracts, too numerous to list in full, with many sports clubs, sport agencies, partnerships with media sites and direct-to-consumer ambitions.

It holds numerous online sports rights itself, runs pay-for VOD sites for 79 Football League clubs and sells ads for and FLInteractive.

It also serves sports video highlights on to the websites of newspaper and other partners. Its ePlayer white-label video platform takes over 30 million monthly uniques. And Perform could have a big opportunity to take its videos on to connected TVs, not just computer screens.

The company aims to create a new division, Perform Publishing, which will be dedicated to building out Perform’s direct-to-consumer, own-brand products and audiences, rather than syndicating to partners. Trinity Mirror’s national digital content director had been due to head the new unit as MD but opted to stay with the news publisher. Perform tells paidContent:UK: “This is still a strategic area of the business that we are looking to develop.”

All in all, Perform looks set to be one of the leading deliverers of online sports video. What it might need £200 ($312.41) million for is not clear.