Skydance Media Announces $400 Million Strategic Investment Round Led by KKR and The Ellison Family Plus Existing Investors RedBird Capital Partners and Tencent
Opportunistic, Growth-Focused Raise Sets Valuation at Over $4 Billion
SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Skydance Media (“Skydance” or the “Company”) today announced the completion of a $400 million strategic investment round led by KKR and joined by The Ellison family who remain the Company’s majority shareholders. Existing investors RedBird Capital Partners and Tencent also participated in the fundraise, which values Skydance at over $4 billion.
The addition of KKR as a new strategic investor further solidifies Skydance’s position as a leading independent global media company. The capital raise and access to the expertise and global network of KKR will also help accelerate Skydance’s growth initiatives in sports and interactive entertainment, as well as the continued scaling of existing verticals such as animation.
Skydance Media’s CEO, David Ellison, said: “The investment from KKR creates a powerful strategic partnership with a firm at the forefront of the evolution of technology and interactive entertainment, all of which are key propellers in the next phase of Skydance’s growth. Having KKR in our corner as thought partners and engaged collaborators will help us to execute on the many opportunities we see in front of us. We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of our long-term strategic investors – RedBird, who has championed our sports strategy, as well as Tencent and CJ ENM, who have each helped to drive our global growth and diversification.”
Skydance’s cross-platform approach to IP creation, ownership and distribution combined with deep relationships with content, talent and technology partners have bolstered the Company’s scalability and earnings potential across its industry leading divisions. The Company has created some of the most successful entertainment franchises, including most recently its record-setting release of Top Gun: Maverick. Skydance’ s content has also consistently overperformed on multiple streamers including chart-topping results on Amazon, Apple and Netflix, as well as video game releases on interactive platforms.
Jenny Box, Partner and Co-Head of KKR’s Strategic Investments Group, said: “We are delighted to invest behind Skydance, David Ellison and the impressive, differentiated team of creative and entrepreneurial talent he has assembled.” Ted Oberwager, Partner, who leads the gaming, entertainment, media and sports verticals within KKR’s Americas Private Equity business, added: “Skydance has already created a diverse collection of premium content across multiple formats, and we are only in the early stages of what they can accomplish. We look forward supporting the Skydance team as they continue to build their business across TV, film, animation, gaming and sports and tell compelling stories in new and innovative ways.”
KKR is investing in Skydance through funds and accounts managed by its Strategic Investments Group. Across its strategies, KKR has deep experience investing in category leaders across media, entertainment and sports businesses, including Axel Springer, ByteDance, Chord Music Partners, Epic Games, FanDuel Group, Leonine Studios, Mediawan, OverDrive, PlayOn! Sports, RBmedia and UFC.
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP acted as legal advisor to Skydance. Moelis & Company acted as financial advisor and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP acted as legal advisor to KKR.
Skydance is the diversified media company founded by David Ellison in 2010 to create high-quality, event-level entertainment for global audiences. The Company first launched with Feature Films and has since strategically expanded to include Television, Interactive, Animation, New Media and Sports, with studios in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, Spain and Canada.
Skydance’s films includes the box office record-breaking Top Gun: Maverick, The Adam Project which debuted as the number one movie on Netflix, The Tomorrow War on Amazon Prime Video which became the number one streaming film upon its release, as well as the critically-acclaimed The Old Guard on Netflix. In total, Skydance’s films have earned more than $7 billion at the worldwide box office. The studio’s film slate includes The Greatest Beer Run Ever, plus the upcoming Ghosted, The Family Plan for Apple TV+; Heart of Stone, The Old Guard 2 and a reboot of the Spy Kids film franchise for Netflix; and the seventh and eighth installments of the Mission: Impossible global franchise. Skydance Television is a leading supplier of premium scripted content across a range of platforms including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+. The studio’s current slate includes the Emmy-nominated series Grace and Frankie, which became Netflix’s longest running series following the release of its final season earlier this year, as well as Foundation, Reacher, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Condor, The Big Door Prize and an untitled spy series starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first ever scripted television series. Skydance Interactive creates and publishes original and IP-based virtual reality and other immersive video games including the top-selling The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners, which received several award nominations, including “Best VR/AR Game” at the 2020 Game Awards. Skydance New Media creates narratively focused interactive experiences crafted as original series, putting the audience at the center of the action and adventure, with the first two productions being with Marvel Entertainment and Lucasfilm Games respectively. Skydance Sports develops premium scripted and unscripted sports-related content, documentaries and events. Skydance Sports is currently in production on two projects for Amazon Prime Video: the docuseries Good Neighbors and an untitled Air Jordan film starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and directed by Affleck. Skydance Animation develops and produces high-end feature films and television series with full production capability across two studios in Los Angeles and Madrid. The first two slated movies are Luck and Spellbound, the first short film is Blush, and the first series is Wondla, all premiering on Apple TV+.
KKR is a leading global investment firm that offers alternative asset management as well as capital markets and insurance solutions. KKR aims to generate attractive investment returns by following a patient and disciplined investment approach, employing world-class people, and supporting growth in its portfolio companies and communities. KKR sponsors investment funds that invest in private equity, credit and real assets and has strategic partners that manage hedge funds. KKR’s insurance subsidiaries offer retirement, life and reinsurance products under the management of Global Atlantic Financial Group. References to KKR’s investments may include the activities of its sponsored funds and insurance subsidiaries. For additional information about KKR & Co. Inc. (NYSE: KKR), please visit KKR’s website at www.kkr.com and on Twitter @KKR_Co.
About RedBird Capital
RedBird Capital Partners is a private investment firm focused on building high-growth companies in partnership with entrepreneurs in sports, media, experiential consumer and financial services. Founded by former Goldman Sachs Partner Gerry Cardinale in 2014, RedBird has over $7.5 billion of assets under management with a highly curated group of blue-chip global institutional and family office investors. RedBird’s network of entrepreneurs is central to its investment sourcing and company-building strategy that helps founders achieve their business objectives and long-term vision. Since inception, RedBird has invested in over 30 platform companies and 80 add on acquisitions with total enterprise value exceeding $30 billion. For more information, please go to www.redbirdcap.com.
Miles Radcliffe-Trenner and Emily Cummings