Barcelona plan to raise capital by floating ‘Barca Media’ arm on NASDAQ stock exchange officially over


Barcelona’s plan to raise hundreds of millions of euros to help fix their severe financial problems by floating a ‘Barca Media’ on the NASDAQ stock exchange in New York is officially over.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta announced the scheme in August 2023, with the new ‘Barca Media’ brand containing all of the club’s digital and audiovisual production activities valued at $1billion by the club.

The initial idea was to launch a SPAC investment vehicle on the NASDAQ by the end of 2023.

However, problems quickly emerged with German company Libero’s involvement as investors, and the launch date was regularly pushed further and further back in the following months.

A formal end to the idea has now come with Mountain Partners — the Swiss company who had raised €120m ($129m) in investment, and were looking for a partner to launch a media company on the NASDAQ — and Barcelona informing the SEC of the termination of their business agreement. Mountain is now looking for a new ‘SPAC’ investment opportunity instead.

This means further financial problems for Laporta’s board — given that the Barca Media company was given a €400m valuation in the club’s 2022-23 accounts, a valuation which will now likely have to be revised downwards.

Laporta and the Barcelona board are facing potential problems (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Laporta and the Barcelona board are facing potential problems (David Ramos/Getty Images)

La Liga also took the Barca Media scheme into account when calculating Barca’s salary limit for 2022-23. The problems with Libero, and other investors Socios and Orpheus, meant that limit was revised down mid-season. This is also why the club are not currently able to register new players for 2023-24, with a search for new investors to enter the scheme having not yet been successful.

The Athletic has approached Mountain for comment. Barcelona had no comment when approached.

OK, so what does this mean?

It was always difficult to see how the Barca Media scheme was going to really fix the club’s financial problems. The €1bn overall valuation seemed wildly optimistic, and the club’s former financial vice-president Eduardo Romeu admitted ahead of last October’s AGM that the €400m value in their accounts was “just financial engineering”.

Barcelona’s board have taken Libero to a German court to force payment of €40m the Catalan club say they are owed, but there is no sign of that case being resolved soon. A deadline of June 30 has also passed without Socios or Orpheus making payments totalling €60m for their shares of Barca Media.

So as things stand, Barcelona cannot register any new players for the 2024-25 campaign, or even register existing players Vitor Roque or Inigo Martinez with La Liga.

Vitor Roque is currently not registered in Barcelona's La Liga (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Vitor Roque is currently not registered in Barcelona’s La Liga (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

There was more confusion on Sunday (June 30), when Barcelona first announced official goodbyes for Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo, with their loans from Atletico Madrid and Manchester City ending, but then quickly deleted the social media posts.

Laporta has said that he would like both ‘Joaos’ to return on loan next season, but La Liga will not allow those deals to happen until a significant solution is found to the Barca Media problem.

It is sure to be another long summer of drama at the Catalan club, with huge uncertainty over which current players can continue and which potential transfer targets can actually be signed.

(Top photo: David Ramos/Getty Images)

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