The private equity firm is expected to take a significant minority stake that will likely value the company at between $650 million and $750 million.
LeBron James is one step closer to cashing in on his entertainment business in a deal that would still leave the NBA superstar short of becoming basketball’s second billionaire.
People familiar with the matter say that private equity firm RedBird Capital is in advanced discussions to make a strategic investment in James’ SpringHill Co., an entertainment company that has been the subject of deal rumors since July. The amount of the possible deal, which was first reported by Sportico, could not be determined, although the investment is likely to be done at a valuation of $650 million to $750 million.
The infusion of capital would represent a massive win for James, who continues to expand his off-the-court interests. The 36-year-old Los Angeles Lakers superstar came in as the fifth-highest-paid athlete on the planet on this year’s Forbes list, with earnings of $96.5 million over 12 months. Only Conor McGregor and Roger Federer posted off-the-field totals higher than James’ $65 million. Prior to the SpringHill deal, Forbes estimated James’ net worth to be roughly $850 million. James is the largest single shareholder in SpringHill. Forbes recently valued his stake—believed not to exceed 50%—at approximately $300 million.
James and his childhood friend, Maverick Carter, together built the SpringHill Co., the diversified media company behind the new Space Jam movie, the HBO documentary What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali and unscripted series including the NBC competition show The Wall. The company, named for the apartment complex where James grew up, was founded in 2020 and also includes media platform Uninterrupted, which produces the HBO talk show The Shop, and a marketing agency, the Robot Company, which counts JPMorgan Chase, Beats by Dre and Sprite as clients.
James is chasing Michael Jordan, the only billionaire to have emerged from the sport, although he reached that status after his playing days were over.
RedBird was founded by Gerry Cardinale, a former Goldman Sachs partner with deep ties to Hollywood and the world of professional sports. He has been assembling an expansive portfolio of assets, taking a minority stake earlier this year in Wasserman, a sports marketing and talent agency, and investing $275 million into David Ellison’s Skydance Media, the studio behind the Oscar-winning movie Parasite. It also bought, sold and re-acquired a stake in the YES Network.
The potential SpringHill deal isn’t the first time Cardinale and James have crossed paths. Months ago, RedBird purchased a 10% stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns a bevy of sports assets including Liverpool FC and the Boston Red Sox. James bought 2% of Liverpool in 2011 and exchanged his stake to grab a reported 1% investment in FSG earlier this year.