BlackRock Buys 30% Stake in Owner of Sports Illustrated, Nautica

The deal values the brand management company at about $4 billion.
Lauren MuskettAugust 12, 2019

BlackRock has acquired a roughly 30% stake in Authentic Brands Group for $875 million. The deal is the first by BlackRock’s new private equity fund, Long Term Private Capital.

“The fund itself put $625 million and we have another $250 million that is coming from related entities and co-investors,” André Bourbonnais, head of BlackRock’s Long Term Private Capital, told Reuters.

Singapore’s GIC contributed about $150 million in the deal, while Jasper Ridge Partners contributed $80 million.

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Authentic Brands Group is the parent company of Sports Illustrated and owns about 50 athletic, apparel, and consumer brands, including Nautica, Vince Camuto, Herve Leger, Juicy Couture, Nine West, and Frye. The brand management company produces almost $10 billion in global revenue annually.

BlackRock, in April, said it was set to begin investing the Long Term Private Capital fund, which had $2.75 billion committed from investors. The company has said it wants to raise $10 billion to $12 billion for the vehicle.

The Wall Street Journal broke the news of the acquisition and said the deal is valued at more than $4 billion including debt.

With the acquisition, BlackRock becomes Authentic’s largest shareholder, replacing the private-equity firm Leonard Green & Partners. Other Authentic investors include General Atlantic, Lion Capital, Simon Property Group, Brookfield Properties, and Shaquille O’Neal.

Authentic purchased Sports Illustrated from Meredith in 2018 for $110 million. It also took on debt from Nine West, which filed for bankruptcy the same year. The strategic partnership with Sports Illustrated also eliminated $1.4 billion in debt accrued when Meredith acquired Time in January 2018. Authentic then acquired the skating and snowboarding label Volcom from French luxury group Kering SA this April.

Authentic chief executive officer Jamie Salter said the deal will give Authentic Brands additional capital to grow its branding business. Salter said he and his family will still control about 20% of the company. He sold to BlackRock to develop a “long-term partner” of “more than 10 years.”

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