A consortium has agreed in principle a licence arrangement to operate the Crusaders franchise.
A final contract is expected to be signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union within a month, with the details announced then.
This comes as the Hurricanes became the first Super Rugby franchise to go into private ownership.
The successful bid, led by the Wellington Rugby Football Union and supported by private investors, ensured the Hurricanes would stay in the capital for another eight years.
In the new entity, Hurricanes Investment Ltd Partnership, 50 per cent of shares are held by the WRFU and 50 per cent by private shareholders, including Cohiba Traders, represented by former Hurricanes chairman Paul Collins, ForsythMorison, represented by former Hurricanes board member Liz Dawson, and Welnix, owner of the Wellington Phoenix, represented by Gareth Morgan.
The new board will be led by New Zealand Post Group chief executive Brian Roche, a former PricewaterhouseCoopers partner and Rugby NZ 2011 Ltd chairman.
‘‘The announcement today represents a new phase in the development of the Hurricanes,’’ Roche said.
‘‘It’s a privilege for us all to be associated with the opportunities the licence arrangement provides.
‘‘This will ensure that the Hurricanes continue to be a key part of the image and brand of the region – in perspective of both our rugby profile and the economic impact the team brings to the region.’’
NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said options for the Blues were being considered regionally and internationally, and the franchise required more time to consolidate a final bid.
"We expect a bid for the Blues will be submitted to allow a licence to be issued for 2014," he said.
An initial expression of interest was also received for the Chiefs but nothing came of it.
"However, it is disappointing the Chiefs were not able to finalise a bid," Tew said.
"A new, commercially focused board has been appointed by the NZRU to build on the great success the Chiefs enjoyed this year both on and off the field.’’
- © Fairfax NZ News
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