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Legendary sells minority stake to private equity firm Apollo for $760m

2021 Monsterverse movie Godzilla vs Kong

US studio Legendary Entertainment has sold an undisclosed minority stake to private equity firm Apollo for US$760m.

With the deal, Chinese conglomerate Wanda Group, which acquired Legendary for around US$3.5bn in 2016, will see its ownership position reduced but it remains the majority shareholder.

Under the deal, Apollo partners Aaron Sobel and Lee Solomon will join the Legendary board of directors along with representatives from Wanda and management. In a press release jointly issued by Legendary and Apollo, the companies noted that “Legendary management will control the operational, creative and strategic direction of the company.”

Led by CEO Joshua Grode, Legendary is the studio behind blockbuster films such as Dune and Godzilla vs Kong and television series including Lost in Space, Carnival Row and an upcoming Apple TV+ live-action series set in Legendary’s Monsterverse.

Apollo said it was attracted to Legendary’s content and distribution capabilities, its expansion plans for the years ahead and “potential synergies with Apollo’s private-equity portfolio that includes leading companies in media, gaming and technology.”

The investment could also lead to Legendary pursuing M&A activity of its own, with Apollo noting that it sees “strong potential M&A opportunities for the company across a variety of media and talent categories.”

Apollo’s Sobel and Solomon said: “In making this fund investment, we were excited by the velocity in their television and film business, the strong management team and the massive secular tailwinds driving the industry.

“Already, Legendary generates significant free cashflow that’s reinvested in high-growth categories, and we also see compelling M&A opportunities ahead. We view Legendary as a platform for potential follow-on investments and are excited to support Josh, Mary, Chris, Ron and the rest of the Legendary team.”

The investment from Apollo comes as private-equity firms continue to make bold investments in content companies.

Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs’ Candle Media has made headlines over the past six months with a string of big-money acquisitions and investments, starting with its acquisition of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine for a reported US$900m.

The company, which is backed by Blackstone Group, acquired children’s entertainment company Moonbug Entertainment for a reported US$3bn and Israeli prodco Faraway Road Productions, as well as taking a minority stake in Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s company Westbrook.

Meanwhile, Maverick Carter and LeBron James’ The SpringHill Company sold a minority stake to a group of investors led by private investment firm RedBird Capital Partners.

“This fund investment from Apollo validates our success to date and invigorates our growth plans with a strategic capital partner who shares our goal to grow the business,” said Grode of the investment from Apollo.

“The creative leadership of Mary Parent combined with our commitment to make culturally relevant, entertaining content allows us to continue to build on this success now with the support of Apollo as well as our partners at Wanda.”

Lincoln Zhang, the lead director on the board of Legendary as a representative of Wanda, added: “We acquired Legendary in 2016 with a thesis to grow the full scope of content production and distribution globally and have seen strong success to date. We are pleased to now welcome Apollo as investors in the company.”


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