LeBron James may have championship aspirations for his Los Angeles Lakers this NBA season, but the 36-year-old superstar has already scored a bigger win.
The SpringHill Company, James’ media and entertainment company, today announced the sale of a large minority stake to a group of investors including RedBird Capital Partners, Fenway Sports Group, Nike and Epic Games for a valuation of ‘approximately $ 725 million. UC Investments, an existing shareholder, will also increase its stake. James, who is president of SpringHill, and Maverick Carter, his business partner and CEO of the company, will retain a controlling stake as a result of the deal.
“We started this company with the slogan ‘More than an athlete’ which still defines everything we do to this day,” Carter said in a statement.
The Los Angeles Lakers superstar is one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, having landed a berth in the annual Forbes ranking every year since 2004. James has raised pre-tax income of over $ 1 billion during his career, according to Forbes estimates. Still, the deal leaves James far from reaching billionaire status. Prior to the SpringHill sale, Forbes estimated James’ net worth at around $ 850 million, valuing his stake – which would not exceed 50% – at around $ 300 million. Previous reports predicted the sale of SpringHill would value the company between $ 650 million and $ 750 million. James is set to become the second billionaire to emerge from professional basketball, in pursuit of Michael Jordan’s post-career success.
James and Carter, who are childhood friends, co-founded SpringHill last year, consolidating their previous three brands: production company SpringHill Entertainment, marketing agency The Robot Company and media platform Uninterrupted. Named after the Akron, Ohio apartment complex where James grew up, the company has been the subject of rumors of a sale since July. In addition to producing the new Space jam movie, SpringHill has produced documentaries, such as those on HBO What is my name: Mohamed Ali, and unscripted series like the NBC competition show The wall and HBO talk show The shop. Customers of The Robot Company include Sprite, JP Morgan, and Beats By Dre. According to people familiar with the deal, SpringHill is set to generate more than $ 100 million in revenue over the next 12 months.
All of the investors in the deal already have existing ties to James. Nike has supported him since he turned pro in 2003 and signed him to a lifetime contract at the end of 2015. The brand pays him around $ 32 million a year. This year, James also agreed to lend his image to Epic Games’ Fortnite video game for an undisclosed amount.
James and Gerry Cardinale, a former Goldman Sachs partner who founded RedBird Capital in 2014 and manages over $ 5 billion in assets, are both investors in Fenway Sports Group. In March, RedBird bought a 10% stake in FSG, which owns the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC, New England Revolution and New England Sports Network, among other assets. James acquired 2% of Liverpool in 2011 and traded his stake for a 1% investment in FSG earlier this year.