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WATCH: A series of controversial money-making deals has left NZR and its CEO Mark Robinson accused of selling off the silver fern.  In trying to restore NZR’s coffers and lift innovation levels, Robinson has run into opposition from players, fans and an environmentally conscious public. He talks to Emile Donovan about those decisions on the first episode of Newsroom Pro Talks.

New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson says he is pleased with the slow but steady progress towards a deal with US investment firm, Silver Lake holdings.

The deal to sell a 12.5 percent stake in NZ Rugby’s commercial rights to the American giant for $387.5 million hit a road block when the New Zealand Rugby Players Association refused to sign off on it.

The players association and local sharebrokers Forsyth Barr have put forward a plan to list 5 percent of the commercial assets on the NZX and raise around $190 million in cash.

Rugby’s 26 provincial unions, and the Māori Rugby Board are backing the Silver Lake deal.

Robinson, talking with Emile Donovan on the first episode of Newsroom Pro Talks, said he had another meeting with players association this week and was happy with the way things were progressing.

NZR’s current revenue is around $200 million dollars and it,“is spending everything it earns.”

Robinson said it needed to lift revenue to $250 million “relatively quickly” and then up to $300 million as soon as it can, if it is to keep fostering and growing the game, and meet all the challenges rugby in New Zealand currently faces.

Silver Lake, he said, could help NZR boost the income it gets from broadcasting and merchandising rights and develop new revenue streams in gaming and E-sports.

Robinson also defended NZR’s sponsorship deal with petrochemical giant, Ineos. He said he was comfortable with the due diligence it had carried out on Ineos and was heartened by the company’s “considerable” investment in renewable energy and sustainability.

The deal, which will see the Ineos logo on the back of All Blacks and Black Ferns shorts has been heavily criticised by environmental groups. Robinson said he respected the right of those “less pleased” with the deal to question it, but NZR would be joining a stable of high profile sports teams sponsored by Ineos and it, “opens up a new frontier for us around high performance technology, analytics and AI as it relates to sport.”

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Newsroom Pro Talks is made with the support of Spark.

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