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Authentic Brands Group Lands Major New Investor

Authentic Brands Group has a major new investor: BlackRock Long Term Private Capital.

Announced Sunday, the deal sees BlackRock LTPC taking an $875 million stake that values ABG at roughly $4 billion including debt, according to The Wall Street Journal. The funding injection makes BlackRock LTPC ABG’s largest investor, ahead of existing stakeholders Leonard Green & Partners, General Atlantic, Lion Capital, Simon Property Group, the retail group of Brookfield Properties and Shaquille O’Neal.

Nine-year-old ABG develops and markets apparel, footwear, fashion and lifestyle brands including Nautica, Juicy Couture, Aéropostale and Nine West, and holds the licensing rights to cultural icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson. With 50 brands in its portfolio, ABG also bills itself as an entertainment company with a strong presence in sports, managing O’Neal’s brand, along with the likes of Muhammed Ali and Julius Irving.

And it’s spending to expand its reach.

In 2019 alone ABG purchased Sports Illustrated for roughly $110 million in deal the company said highlights its “ability to expand a cultural centerpiece across digital, TV and social platforms and represents [an] increasing desire to converge content and commerce.”

The brand management player also this year scooped up Volcom, the California-based board sports apparel and equipment brand that joins other fitness and action-oriented brands in ABG holdings, like Above the Rim, Airwalk, Hind, Tapout and Vision Street Wear.

ABG has also made no secret of its interest in buying Reebok, which has struggled under Adidas’ ownership but has lately seen some success in bringing stylish footwear and apparel to a new generation of consumers. The company is said to have looked into purchasing Barneys New York’s intellectual property, WSJ said.

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Active in 70 countries, ABG represents brands in the luxury category as well as in specialty and mid-market across e-commerce and brick-and-mortar.

“The strategic investment by LTPC is a testament to the success we have had building a leading platform for the ownership and development of brand and media content,” said ABG CEO and chairman Jamie Salter, who left his position as CEO of Hilco Consumer Capital to found the firm in 2010. “We believe BlackRock’s scale, global footprint and digital capabilities will enable us to build out our organization and continue our domestic and international growth trajectory.”

Describing ABG as “an innovator in the licensing and branding industry” that is “successfully capitalizing on trends and continuing to innovate in the evolving consumer space,” BlackRock LTPC managing director Colm Lanigan said, “We believe there is substantial growth still ahead for ABG and look forward to partnering with Jamie and Nick to build a global platform that brings together the worlds of fashion, health and wellness, sports, culture and entertainment.”

BlackRock LTPC, a new fund for the world’s largest money manager, reportedly had raised $2.75 billion as of April.

Noting ABG as BlackRock LTPC’s first investment, André Bourbonnais, the fund’s global head, said, “ABG represents exactly the type of high-quality business run by a proven management team that we target with our investment strategy.

“ABG will have the full support of the LTPC team, our operating partners and the BlackRock platform,” he added. “We look forward to a long and prosperous relationship.”