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XV Capital plots expansion, fund launch

Sports investment firm XV Capital is planning a new sports tech fund and offices in the US and Europe, making a slew of appointments in support of the strategy.

XV Capital was launched in 2020 by former Australian Rugby Union captain Stirling Mortlock and business partner James Godfrey, investing in global sports innovation companies.

Godfrey said now is the time for XV Capital to scale up, citing a recent report that showed Australia's sports tech industry is now valued at $4.25 billion. As such, it is bringing in both local and global talent to meet its ambitions and assist with establishing two offshore offices.

Joining XV Capital as chief operating officer and partner is former BT Financial Group head of investment research and governance Marnie McLaren, based in Sydney.

McLaren was with BT for 13 years before her departure in April 2022, prior to which she held senior roles at St George Wealth Management. She is also chair of the Financial Industry Community Aid Program.

McLaren told Financial Standard she is thrilled to be joining XV Capital, saying the firm's vision aligns perfectly with her own passion for investing and the sports technology industry.

"At the heart of my decision is the opportunity to help XV Capital to scale locally as well as systemise and replicate their operations on a global scale. XV Capital has an impressive foundation in place, and I'm excited to leverage my experience to take our operations to new heights," she said.

"Additionally, I am particularly excited by the firm's commitment to creating an institutional-grade sports tech fund. This initiative underscores XV Capital Advisory's dedication to fostering innovation within the industry and supporting entrepreneurs and startups who share our vision. Together, we will play a pivotal role in driving advancements in sports technology investing, and I couldn't be more thrilled to be a part of this journey."

The firm has also added sports marketing professional as Rob Smith as chief commercial officer and partner, based in Auckland.

At the same time, XV Capital has made several high-profile appointments to its board.

Vanguard Institutional Investor Group (US) managing director John James, FTI Consulting (UK) senior managing director Angus Wilson, and Alyve chief executive of digital transformation Mark Cameron have all joined to assist the expansion.

"The addition of John, Angus and Mark to our board, and Rob and Marnie to our executive team, provides the business, our investors and clients invaluable expertise and a global network and perspective," Godfrey said.

"The unique skills and experience they each bring will help us achieve our ambition of scaling our local operations; building an institutional grade sports technology fund; and opening offices in the US in 2026 and Europe in 2028."

XV Capital's immediate priority is on gaining local scale and capturing "the tailwinds created by the golden decade of major and mega events", he added.

As an example, the $2 billion funding shortfall leading into the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games represents an opportunity for private investors.

"There's a huge opportunity for sports tech to help create efficiencies, reduce risk, diversify revenues, and enable sport in Australia to shine on the global stage, using a proven path of thought leadership and innovation," Mortlock said.

In the coming months, XV Capital expects to announce further equity agreements with technology companies, as well as strategic partnerships that will drive innovation in local sports. In March, XV Capital signed an equity agreement with EyeGuide Technologies which offers an objective 10 second digital eye test to those suffering from sporting concussions, head injuries and other mental health issues.

Other companies within XV Capital's portfolio include Clubfunders, which enables sports sponsorships and payments, and GainLine Analytics, which focuses on data analysis and quantitative research to predict team performance.

"The sports sector already represents approximately 1% of Australia's GDP and we believe it's time investors had an institutional grade solution to access opportunities in this sector," Mortlock said.

"The US sports investment market is by far the most advanced in the world with family offices, global investment banks, venture capital, private equity and the like, all looking to access a sector that has been uncorrelated to traditional market conditions and performed well over the long term."

Read more: Angus WilsonBT Financial GroupClubfundersEyeGuide TechnologiesFinancial Industry Community Aid ProgramFinancial StandardFTI ConsultingGainLine AnalyticsJames GodfreyJohn JamesMark CameronMarnie McLarenRob SmithSt George Wealth ManagementStirling MortlockVanguard Institutional Investor GroupXV Capital Advisory