Oct 14, 2021 - Economy

LeBron James' SpringHill sells stake at $725 million valuation

Illustration of a film reel dunking into a basketball net

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The SpringHill Company, a content production group co-founded by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, announced on Thursday that it sold a "significant minority stake" to an investor group at a $725 million valuation.

The big picture: Streaming has introduced a wave of consolidation in Hollywood, as studios look to beef up their production capabilities to meet growing content demands. 

  • Amazon announced a deal to acquire MGM Studios for $8.45 billion in May, jumpstarting the deal frenzy. 
  • Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine in August sold for $900 million to a new, unnamed media company backed by Blackstone and led by former Disney executives Tom Staggs and Kevin Mayer.
  • Other smaller studios like A24, Legendary, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s Westbrook Inc. are also rumored to be in deal talks.

Details: SpringHill held talks with multiple parties, but ultimately went with a group of investors with which it had existing ties.

  • The lead investor was RedBird Capital Partners, which got to know James and Carter via their joint investment in Fenway Sports Group, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox.
  • Fenway Sports Group also participated, as did Nike and "Fortnite" maker Epic Games (which offered to buy all of SpringHill, but was rebuffed). Plus existing backer UC Investments.
  • Carter tells Axios that Nike will help SpringHill do more licensing deals in fashion and commerce, while Epic will bring SpringHill IP into games and the metaverse. Fenway will help with international expansion.
  • Carter and James will maintain their controlling interest

Be smart: The new funds will be used to build up the company's production capabilities so it can make more original content and invest in new creators.

  • It currently produces dozens of documentaries, streaming shows, podcasts and events across platforms like HBO, Netflix, Hulu and others.
  • "We're purely and entertainment brand," Carter said. "We are very focused on companies that are about empowerment and have creativity at the center ... It's time to put our foot on the gas even more and start to own even more of what we make."
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