Content Partners Acquires Half of 'CSI' Franchise

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Following a condensed 18-episode season (its shortest to date) the less-expensive of the two CSI spinoffs edged out the network's Miami-set effort to gain the pickup.

The investment fund and asset management company bought a 50 percent interest in the long-running trio of TV series from Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs has sold its 50 percent interest in the lucrative, long-running CSI television franchise to Content Partners after a bidding war that began late last year.

Steven H. Kram, president and CEO of Content Partners, said the deal closed Wednesday morning. “This complements our strategy of buying high-end content that provides a long-term asset stream,” said Kram.

CBS continues to own the other half of the franchise, which has included CSI, now in its 13th season; CSI: New York and CSI: Miami, which ended its run last year. CBS controls all domestic and international distribution rights for traditional TV and in new media. There are more than 700 episodes.

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“CBS has made a strong commitment to the CSI franchise and continues to aggressively distribute the property across all platforms,” added Kram.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s company is also involved in the shows and continues in its role as a profit participant in what is expected to be an asset with long-term value.

Kram declined to disclose the sale price but it is believed to be over $400 million. Other bidders are said to have included the private equity firms Fortress and Blackstone.

Goldman Sachs got its 50 percent stake when it acquired Alliance Atlantis.

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This is believed to be the biggest deal yet for Content Partners, which was created by Kram, formerly with William Morris, and Steven Blume, who worked for Brillstein Partners, as a way to provide liquidity to profit participants and content owners.

They raised $50 million to fund the company about five years ago from a number of investors including Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner. Other participants and employees include Krista Parkinson, a former William Morris agent; Brendan Haley, formerly of New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.; Paul Wachter, founder of the Wall Street group Main Street Advisors; and Lawrence Goldstein, a venture capitalist who co-founded Seed Capital Partners.

Initially they raised another $50 million in debt through JP Morgan. For the CSI deal, JP Morgan helped provide financing as did Bank of America.

"We saw that there was no way for people who owned profit participations to get any liquidity, so they could be waiting the rest of their lives to collect their money," Kram told The Hollywood Reporter in 2007. 'We felt if we could provide an opportunity for diversification to participant holders, it would be warmly welcomed."