Feb 20, 2024 - Business

Scoop: LionTree quietly raised $1B+ fund last year

Photo Illustration of Aryeh Bourkoff with abstract shapes and money motifs.

LionTree's Aryeh Bourkoff. Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images

LionTree, the media advisory firm and merchant bank led by Aryeh Bourkoff, raised well over $1 billion in a new fund last year to support investments across media, entertainment, tech and gaming, sources familiar with the firm's efforts told Axios.

  • At least part of the fund includes Saudi backing, three sources familiar with the fund confirmed.

Why it matters: Media investing includes sensitivities around foreign ownership and control that make public disclosures more relevant, though they aren't always required.

  • LionTree hasn't typically disclosed who backs its funds in the past. The same holds for Allen & Company, another high-profile boutique investment firm with a strong media focus.

Zoom in: The fund includes more than a dozen limited partners, one source noted.

  • The firm has already begun to deploy capital from the new fund.
  • LionTree doesn't typically announce its investments, but some of the companies it backs will.
  • LionTree declined to comment.

Zoom out: In recent years, LionTree — which was founded in 2012 — has moved further into asset fund management in addition to its role as an advisory firm.

  • It has poured bigger checks into growth-stage companies as its asset management business expands.

Between the lines: Some new firms have been more forthcoming about foreign investment, but disclosures can sometimes lead to more public scrutiny.

  • Jeff Zucker's RedBird IMI — a joint venture between RedBird Capital Partners and Emirati-based International Media Investments — is facing a British government inquiry over its $1.4 billion bid to buy the Telegraph and the Spectator.
  • Peter Chernin's global production studio, North Road Company, has raised nearly $1 billion, including $150 million from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund.

The big picture: Saudi investments have become particularly polarizing in the aftermath of Jamal Khashoggi's murder in 2018.

  • Jared Kushner, for example, has been criticized for securing $2 billion from the Saudi Public Investment Fund after leaving the White House.

What to watch: Media dealmaking was slower in 2023 compared to the previous two years, but it's expected to ramp up in 2024, per PwC.

  • Advances in generative AI and more certainty around interest rates is expected to fuel more strategic partnerships and private equity investments.
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