LeBron James’ SpringHill valued at $ 725 million in new contract

LeBron James’ Hollywood ambitions are at a major financial stalemate.

James’ entertainment company SpringHill Co. has secured a private equity investment to fuel the growth of the Los Angeles Lakers star in film, television, video games, consumer products and live events.

SpringHill Co. announced Thursday it has reached an agreement with a group led by New York-based RedBird Capital Partners to acquire a significant minority stake in the company, known for shows such as “The Shop” on HBO and the recent Warner Bros. film “Space Jam: A New Legacy”.

Participants in the deal include Boston Red Sox owner Fenway Sports Group, clothing brand Nike and maker of “Fortnite” Epic Games. The deal values ​​Los Angeles-based SpringHill at $ 725 million.

Other financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but people familiar with the terms said the RedBird-led group would own nearly half of the business and invest nine-figure capital to grow the business. , with the possibility of earning more money later. . James, who is the president of the company, and CEO Maverick Carter, will still have a controlling stake.

Carter, a longtime friend of James from their Akron, Ohio, days who has handled the star’s business relationship for years, said the infusion of capital will allow SpringHill to produce more of its own content, than invest in new intellectual property and acquire other businesses, including production companies.

“We will be able to fund our own projects,” Carter told Zoom. “We’re going to develop our physical industry so that we can finance and control the production of the things we make. So when we talk about empowering creators, we can really leave the control to the creators. ”

The company plans to surpass $ 100 million in revenue over the next 12 months, according to Carter, up 67% from the past 12 months, when SpringHill generated around $ 60 million in sales.

Last year, Carter and James raised $ 100 million for SpringHill from investors such as Sister, the production company of Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone, and Guggenheim.

The SpringHill deal is the latest large-scale investment in a production company amid a gold rush for content in the entertainment industry. Media companies crave content to create streaming services with new shows and movies.

Hello Sunshine from Reese Witherspoon, the entity behind ‘Big Little Lies’, received a majority investment in August from the company formed by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs and private equity giant Blackstone, valuing the company to over $ 900 million. Amazon is trying to acquire James Bond producer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios for $ 8.45 billion, pending regulatory approval.

“Moonlight” producer A24 and “Dune” studio Legendary Entertainment have all been the subject of recent deal speculation.

SpringHill was a logical solution for RedBird Capital, founded in 2014 by former Goldman Sachs partner Gerry Cardinale, who has known Carter and James for over a decade.

RedBird is heavily invested in sports and entertainment, with a portfolio that includes investments in YES Network, the New York Yankees regional sports network; Skydance Media by David Ellison; and XFL, which she owns with Dany Garcia and Dwayne Johnson. RedBird is also a shareholder in Fenway Sports Group, which, in addition to the Red Sox, owns Liverpool Football Club and Boston’s Fenway Park. James and Carter became partners at Fenway earlier this year.

SpringHill has been in talks since at least July, when News first reported investors were going in circles. Fenway was in talks with SpringHill when he brought Cardinale to the table, Carter said. Cardinale quickly saw the potential to grow SpringHill’s business, and a deal was struck in just a few months.

“The goal is to create a diverse, multi-billion dollar culture and content company, and I think that puts it in a pretty unique position,” said Cardinale, Founder and Managing Partner of RedBird. “It’s not just capital; it’s about listening to Maverick and LeBron in terms of what they want to build, where they’ve taken the business from a standing start to today, and then saying what the potential trajectory is.

The pact is the latest boost for SpringHill, which was already one of the best-known of a handful of content companies started by sports stars.

Stephen Curry of Golden State Warriors co-founded investment and media firm Thirty5 Ventures of Unanimous Media and Kevin Durant of Brooklyn Nets. Kobe Bryant’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, chairs Granity Studios, the production company created by the late great Lakers and Oscar winner.

The agreement with RedBird opens the door to expanding SpringHill’s line of films, shows and documentaries, as well as expanding its consumer products and branding business. It builds on an existing relationship with Nike, which signed a seven-year, $ 90 million endorsement deal with James at the age of 18, making him the highest-paid player in the NBA.

Epic will work with SpringHill to create new experiences using the company’s brands. James earlier this year appeared in the popular shooter “Fortnite”. SpringHill will also be able to work with Fenway to create original content on its teams and sites.

Additionally, the deal raises the possibility of SpringHill working with other RedBird stable companies, including XFL and Skydance, known for such productions as Apple TV + ‘s “Foundation” series and the action film. from Netflix’s “The Old Guard”.

“The way I invest, I always look at that connectivity with the different companies that I have invested with,” Cardinale said. “You should expect us to look at this in all areas. “

SpringHill’s lineup includes a reboot of the comedy film “House Party” for the HBO Max streaming service. Last year, the company quit its pact with Warner Bros. for a first deal with Universal Pictures from Comcast Corp. Universal released Amy Schumer’s 2015 comedy “Trainwreck,” in which James played a memorable supporting role.

Carter has big ambitions for SpringHill, seeing his potential as much more than a vehicle for James’ off-court career.

“We’ll be able to fund and develop our own intellectual property – that’s ambitious – but much like Disney does,” Carter said. “It’s ambitious, it’s arrogant. But the arrogant aspiration is what leads to the construction of things.

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