LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — WME's stake in Raine, the private equity investment vehicle developed to capitalize on emerging opportunities in the media, entertainment and sports ("MES"), is starting to pay off.
Founded by Joe Ravitch, former senior partner and global head of media at Goldman Sachs, and Jeff Sine, former Vice-Chairman and global head of Technology, Media & Telecom at UBS, Raine was developed to invest in media and entertainment-related opportunities.
Although Ravitch and Sine both come from a finance background, the two are no newcomers to the media and entertainment world. Ravitch helped to put together such high profile deals as the creation of NBA China, the creation of the YES sports television network and the sale of the New Jersey Nets and Seattle Supersonics NBA teams. Sine was a part of Morgan Stanley's Media Group from its inception and while at UBS, advised the AOL during their merger with Time Warner as well as the Sundance Channel when they were sold to Cablevision's Rainbow Media.
Since launching Raine approximately a year ago, the two financiers have managed to secure upwards of $300 million, primarily from Sovereign Wealth Funds, investment vehicles sponsored by governments, such as Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Development Company. Raine has also lined up some crucial support within their own advisory board, which includes entertainment industry notables such as IMG Worldwide's Ted Forstmann and former Viacom CEO Tom Preseton, sports team owners such as Raymond Chambers (The New Jersey Devils) and tech savvy investors such as Netscape founder Marc Andressen, who also serves on the boards of Facebook and HP, among others.
According to the New York Times, Raine has already been involved in some significant deals, advising Abu Dhabi-owned Flash Entertainment on their acquisition of a stake in the Ultimate Fighting Championship league and advising Hugh Hefner in his bid to take his Playboy company private.
Raine also appears to be banking on the notion that their close proximity to entertainment industry deal-makers will give them access to investment opportunities over properties such as new and developing sports leagues and global comic book brands.
Deadline Hollywood's Nikki Finke suggests that WME is looking for ways to diversify into businesses that aren't based around a commission model without stepping on the toes of their present business arena. Other agencies have developed similar efforts, such as CAA's Evolution Media Capital and Steven Rattner's New York-based private equity Quadrangle Group, which was founded way back in 2000. Although private equity funds do not make public disclosures, a Feb, 2010 news report suggested that Quadrangle had already fully repaid the initial investors for the initial $1 billion in capitalization, holds positions in several companies and had $500 million left to invest. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers