(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) —
Sandler Capital Management and Robert M. Gutkowski have formed Marketing Group International (MGI), a venture that will seek to acquire companies in the fast-growing event marketing and experiential marketing sectors.
MGI intends to bring together highly-regarded companies including event marketing, sports and entertainment marketing, public relations and other specialized marketing and promotions companies to create a global, integrated, full service events and experiential marketing provider. Acquired companies will retain their individual operations and brand identities within the MGI platform. MGI is in active discussions with several potential acquisitions and partners. It is anticipated that MGI will acquire companies totaling $100 million in value over its first two years of operation.
Gutkowski, former president of Madison Square Garden and founder of The Marquee Group, a worldwide sports and entertainment marketing firm, will serve as chief executive officer of MGI. "Today's brand marketers face tremendous difficulties in conveying their messages," said Gutkowski. "The fragmentation of mass media, the ability to bypass television commercials, the emergence of new media devices and the overall intrusiveness of advertising have conspired to inhibit the effective use of traditional messaging. In response to these challenges, forms of marketing communications such as events represent a large and growing portion of corporate communications budgets."
"As investors in media, we are constantly looking for high quality businesses that can benefit from our industry expertise and financial resources," said Michael Marocco, managing director of Sandler Capital. "Today, there are hundreds of small, creative, independent companies on the event marketing front lines that would add value to MGI's portfolio. Throughout his career, Bob Gutkowski has shown an ability to build assets and enterprise value, maximize the potential of management teams and ensure that a group of highly talented, entrepreneurial executives works together toward a common goal. Based on that track record and the changes we see in the marketing sector, we believe MGI presents an excellent opportunity for value creation."
Over the past 24 years, Gutkowski has had a successful history in the sports and entertainment industries. After serving in various sales and programming positions with NBC, ESPN and Paramount Television, Gutkowski served as president of MSG Network from 1985-91, executing a groundbreaking $486 million rights agreement with the New York Yankees. Named president of Madison Square Garden in 1991, he was responsible for a multi-faceted operation that included the New York Knickerbockers basketball team, the New York Rangers hockey team, which won the Stanley Cup Championship in 1994, boxing, events and television and radio broadcast entities.
In 1995, Gutkowski founded The Marquee Group, a worldwide sports and entertainment firm that managed, produced and marketed sports and entertainment events and provided representation for athletes, entertainers and broadcasters. The Marquee Group became a public company in 1996, and was acquired by SFX Entertainment in 1999. Since then, Gutkowski has been an industry consultant, most recently with the YES Network, the regional sports network that Gutkowski helped create for New York Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen