LeBron James’ SpringHill entertainment company produced the remake of “Space Jam” (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures).
Basketball icon LeBron James continues his path to media mega-mogul after a business deal raised the value of his SpringHill Co., a movie and television production corporation, to $725 million.
The entertainment company received a private equity-led investment to expand the company’s production of movies, television shows, video games, consumer products and live events.
On Oct. 14, SpringHill said it had completed a business deal, led by New York-based RedBird Capital Partners to obtain a sizable minority stake in their company.
The Los Angeles Times reported, “Participants in the deal include Boston Red Sox owner Fenway Sports Group, apparel brand Nike and ‘Fortnite’ maker Epic Games. The deal values Los Angeles-based SpringHill at $725 million.”
SpringHill has recently found success in Hollywood with movies like “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and the HBO talk show “The Shop.”
Although the companies did not make details of the business deal public, insiders said the deal gives the RedBird Capital Partners-led group close to 50 percent of SpringHill.
Additionally, RedBird Capital Partners will invest nine figures into SpringHill to assist in the growth of the company.
RedBird Capital Partners also has the option to invest more money into SpringHill Co. in the future.
The controlling stake in SpringHill still belongs to James, who serves as SpringHill’s chairman, and James’ childhood friend, high school teammate and business partner Maverick Carter, who holds the position of Chief Executive for SpringHill Co.
Carter hails from James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio and handles James’ business deals.
He said the new partnership will allow SpringHill to produce more original content across various media platforms, invest in intellectual property and acquire other production companies.
Carter said, “We’ll be able to finance our own projects. We’re going to build up our physical production arm so we’ll be able to finance and control the production of the things we make, so when we talk empowering creators, we can really leave creators in control.”
Over the last 12 months, SpringHill earned about $60 million in sales.
Carter said, with this investment from RedBird Capital Partners, he believes that SpringHill Co. will earn more than $100 million in revenue over the next 12 months.
The Los Angeles Times reported, “The SpringHill deal is the latest high-profile production company investment amid a gold rush for content in the entertainment industry. Media companies have been hungry to build streaming services with fresh shows and movies.
“Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, the entity behind ‘Big Little Lies’ in August received a major investment from the firm formed by ex-Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs and private equity giant Blackstone, valuing the firm at more than $900 million. Amazon is trying to acquire James Bond producer Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios for $8.45 billion, pending regulatory approval.”
Industry insiders believe RedBird and SpringHill fit well together because RedBird invests heavily in sports and entertainment.
RedBird’s portfolio includes YES Network, Skydance Media and the XFL.
RedBird also owns a share of the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox baseball team and the soccer team, Liverpool Football Club.
Former Goldman Sachs partner Gerry Cardinale founded RedBird in 2014 and has known James and Carter for more than 10 years.
Cardinale said, “The goal is to create a multibillion-dollar diversified culture and content company, and I think that puts it in a pretty unique position. It’s not just the capital; it’s listening to Maverick and LeBron in terms of what they want to build, where they’ve taken the company from a standing start to today, and then saying what the potential trajectory is.”
SpringHill, arguably, might be the best-known media company started by a sports icon.
However, SpringHill is not alone in the game.
The Los Angeles Times reported, “Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry has Unanimous Media and Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant co-founded investment and media company Thirty Five Ventures. Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa Bryant presides over Granity Studios, the production company created by the late Lakers great and Oscar winner.”
RedBird’s investment will allow SpringHill to create more films, documentaries and television shows, while also strengthening the relationship between James and Nike.
James became a part of the Nike family at 18-years-old when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted the basketball prodigy out of high school and the apparel company signed the teenager to a $90 million endorsement deal.
Furthermore, Epic will work with SpringHill on gaming opportunities.
Earlier this year, the four-time NBA champion appeared on the popular shooter game, “Fortnite.”
As a result of the investment, SpringHill might collaborate with other companies under RedBird’s umbrella like the XFL, now co-owned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
“The way I invest, I’m always looking at that connectivity with different companies I have investments with. You should expect to lean into that across the board.”
After rebooting the “Space Jam” franchise made popular in 1996 by Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan, James’ SpringHill will also remake the 1990 cult classic “House Party,” made popular by rap group Kid ‘N Play, R&B group Full Force, actress Tisha Campbell-Martin and comedy giant, Martin Lawrence.
The original “House Party” also starred the late comedy legend, Robin Harris as Kid’s father.
Last year, SpringHill left its deal with Warner Bros. for a first-look deal with Universal Pictures.
James already had a relationship with Universal after starring in the Amy Schumer comedy “Trainwreck” in 2015.
Next week, James will begin his quest to win his second NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers and fifth overall.
This year, James and superstar teammate Anthony Davis will team up with future Hall of Famers Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook.