LeBron James and his longtime business partner Maverick Carter want to become major players in the film, television, gaming, consumer products, audio and live-event businesses (among others). On Thursday, four investors — Redbird Capital, Fenway Sports Group, Nike and Epic Games — agreed to “pour gasoline” on those ambitions.
Thus Mr. Carter, while speaking on the phone, described the sale of a “significant” minority stake in Springhill, the company he and Mr. James founded last year. The deal values Springhill, where Mr. Carter is chief executive and Mr. James is chairman, approximately $725 million.
“It allows us to really double and triple on our content funding,” Mr. Carter said, noting that doing so would allow Springhill to both build a library of content and control the creative process more tightly. Will get
He declined to say how much cash was pumped into the company. SpringHill, which is based in Los Angeles, has 141 employees and will generate about $100 million in revenue over the next year, Mr. Carter said.
Springhill’s operations include a marketing consultancy (clients include General Motors, Sprite and JPMorgan Chase) and a media and apparel division focused on athlete empowerment. Another division, Springhill Entertainment, produces film and television shows. (A terminated partnership with Warner Bros. resulted in the big-budget film sequel “Space Jam: A New Legacy” in the summer. Additional scripted projects are appearing at Universal Pictures and ABC, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company.) )
The sales chatter started rolling around Springhill this year as a wide variety of companies and investors — hoping to capitalize on the streaming boom — looked to buy the media start-up. For example, Reese Witherspoon sold her Hello Sunshine to a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, backed by the Blackstone Group.
Mr Carter and Mr James turned down other suitors before deciding to strike a deal with the Redbird-led investor group, founded in 2014 by former Goldman Sachs executive Gerry Cardinale, to build businesses are known. A prime example was their 2001 creation of the Yes Regional Sports Network, which broadcasts New York Yankees games with the Steinbrenner family. RedBird, which manages approximately $5 billion in capital, is also an investor in David Ellison’s Skydance Media.
Mr Cardinale said he was particularly drawn to Springhill’s emphasis on empowerment.
“Sports have a very important role to play in addressing social issues,” he said in a phone interview. “Maverick and LeBron have an incredible opportunity to take a real leadership position in leading this forward.”