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David Beckham Hammers Out Authentic Brands Deal

Authentic Brands Group (ABG) and David Beckham just solidified a business deal that sees the former professional soccer star become an ABG shareholder and join the brand management firm’s entertainment division.

Word surfaced last month that the two were negotiating a majority stake in Beckham’s DB Ventures, which he and his designer wife Victoria Beckham control. Beckham was said to be on the hunt for a growth-minded investor.

On Thursday, ABG said it will co-own and manage Beckham’s global brand. Beckham’s portfolio of brands and businesses is supported by key strategic partners that include Adidas, Tudor, Maserati, EA Sports, Sands and Diageo. The agreement will see Beckham and his management team partner with ABG to grow his brand through strategic endorsement, innovative business models, compelling digital and media partnerships and new consumer products, ABG said.

“We are thrilled to welcome David Beckham to ABG’s esteemed entertainment division and even further honored to call him an ABG shareholder. David is a superstar talent with an incredible global brand reach and a highly influential presence,” Jamie Salter, ABG’s founder, chairman and CEO, said. “David and his team have built an enterprise that spans sports, entertainment, lifestyle and luxury, and we see significant opportunities to scale his brand and expand it into new verticals.”

“We have known David and his team for many years and are thrilled to join forces to break new ground,” Nick Woodhouse, ABG’s president and chief marketing officer, added. “Together, we will build on his remarkable brand and business platform to drive long-term growth and success.”

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“Our shared vision makes ABG the ideal strategic partner to help unlock the full potential of my brand and business. I’m incredibly grateful for the support I have received in my business career and proud of what our team has achieved. I’m excited for the next chapter,” Beckham said.

The deal represents ABG’s first since it scrapped plans to go public. And Salter has long looked to Europe for expansion. At one point, the company even considered a bid for Debenhams and Arcadia Group after both collapsed into bankruptcy during the pandemic.

ABG said on Thursday that the partnership with Beckham marks a definitive step in its global strategy to expand its corporate footprint, launch new business verticals and drive growth in key territories, including EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and APAC (Asia Pacific). The company opened its European headquarters in London, where the David Beckham team will operate.

Beckham’s 138 million digital followers will bring ABG’s social media reach to more than 420 million. The onetime Manchester United midfielder annually garners more than 9 billion impressions across Instagram, Facebook and the Chinese platforms Weibo and Douyin.

The deal also includes ABG becoming the largest shareholder in Studio 99, an integrated creative and production studio co-founded by Beckham in 2019. According to ABG, Studio 99 has a slate of documentary series in development and production for global platforms, including Netflix and Disney+, in addition to a commercial business generating content and creative marketing campaigns for a range of global brand clients.

Beckham joins former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal as an ABG shareholder. O’Neal became an ABG shareholder in 2015 when ABG bought his name brand.

The British sports star and style icon has been a UNICEF Global Goodwill Ambassador for almost two decades. He launched the 7 Fund for UNICEF in 2015, which supports children around the world, with a focus on girls’ education, health and justice. Beckham is also a supporter of the British fashion industry around the world, encouraging investment and supporting emerging talent as ambassadorial president of the British Fashion Council. In addition, he is an ambassador for Malaria No More and a patron of the Elton John Aids Foundation.

Beckham, who played in three FIFA World Cups and in 2018 became co-owner of Major League Soccer franchise Inter Miami CF, formed DB Ventures when he retired from the professional sport in the U.K. In 2019, the former athlete paid 38 million pounds ($50 million) to buy back the 33 percent stake held by former business partner Simon Fuller, the “American Idol” mastermind.