- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry is getting new corporate partners in Philadelphia and New York.
Atairos, an investment fund backed by cable giant Comcast and led by its former CFO Michael Angelakis, is teaming with Comcast-owned NBCUniversal to acquire a 30 percent stake in Opry Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of the real estate investment firm Ryman Hospitality Properties.
OEG owns the Grand Ole Opry (as well as the Opry’s AM radio station), Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, the music venue Ole Red, and the lifestyle network Circle, which OEG owns in partnership with local TV giant Gray Television. OEG also owns the Opry’s archive, which includes six decades’ worth of live recordings, totaling more than 11,500 hours.
Under the terms of the deal, Atairos and NBCUniversal will contribute $293 million, with the bulk of that ($278 million) coming from Atairos, and the rest coming from NBCUniversal. OEG will also receive a $300 million Term Loan B, giving it total proceeds of $593 million. OEG will be valued at $1.415 billion in the deal, with Atairos also agreeing to invest another $30 million at a $1.5 billion valuation if certain performance goals are met.
Ryman chairman and CEO Colin Reed said in a statement that the company received “unsolicited interest” last year, leading it to hire bankers to look for “a strategic partner that shares our vision for growing OEG to a position where it can operate independently of our core hospitality business.”
The company believes it has found that partner in Atairos and NBCU, with the company telling investors in an accompanying PowerPoint deck that the partners will bring “strategic and industry relationships” to the table. Ryman told investors in the deck that it would be “leveraging Atairos and Comcast’s resources and connectivity,” citing Saturday Night Live, The Voice, and Peacock as potential partners.
“Atairos and NBCUniversal have a great appreciation for the legendary assets under our stewardship, and we are aligned on protecting and nurturing them for future generations of music lovers to enjoy,” Reed added in a statement. “We view this partnership as a significant opportunity to strengthen these beloved institutions and cement their influence on American music culture.”
For the investors, OEG’s assets are also a content play, not only providing a platform to develop music-related content, but giving the company’s a foothold in country music’s world capital.
“OEG’s dynamic collection of entertainment venues, digital content and iconic country music brands provide a strong foundation for continued growth as a fully integrated country lifestyle platform,” Angelakis said in a statement announcing the deal. “We are excited to partner with the RHP and OEG teams to explore new content distribution strategies and support their ambition of becoming the leading player in country lifestyle live entertainment and media content.”
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day