Relativity Turns to Blackstone to Advise on Refinancing

Ryan Kavanaugh - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Ryan Kavanaugh - H 2015

The company is operating under a forebearance agreement to meet its obligations.

As it rushes to meet its debt payment obligations, Relativity Media has brought in investment firm Blackstone to work with it and its lenders.

“Relativity has engaged Blackstone to work productively with our company and our lenders to close our previously agreed upon financing transaction,” the company said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday. 

The studio also is working with the law firm Jones Day, although a source close to the company said that is not a new development and that Jones Day has been offering counsel to Relativity for some time.

Earlier this week, Relativity Media received a 30-day extension to meet its debt payment agreements, according to knowledgeable sources. It has until June 30 to come up with the cash. 

The studio, headed by CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, has been under intense scrutiny as it juggles financial obligations and a film slate that has underperformed in recent years. Relativity received about $60 million to meet payments that were due on May 31, the sources added. Relativity needed the holdover funds as it continues to close a longer-term financial deal that poises the studio for a possible IPO in 2016. 

THR reported in April that Relativity was close to a deal with Bay Area-based VII to inject as much as $250 million into the company. “We have executed a deal which will bring significant equity into Relativity ahead of a planned IPO. Relativity is in a better position as a diversified global media company than ever, and it remains under Ryan’s leadership,” said Gurpreet Chandhoke, managing partner and chief investment officer at VII Peaks, in a statement at the time.

But Relativity has suffered behind-the-scenes discord as well. Jason Colodne and Jason Beckman, partners at Relativity investor Colbeck Capital, were forced off the board of directors in late May after a story appeared in the New York Post suggesting Kavanaugh could lose control of the company he founded.

Relativity is said to have enlisted a pair of short-term lenders that includes OneWest. The studio declined comment on the specifics of the agreement but issued the following statement on June 1:

“Today the company and its lenders have entered into a formal agreement that allows Relativity additional time to close its previously agreed upon financing transaction. This forbearance agreement ensures Relativity additional liquidity as discussions continue. Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO, and Relativity are deeply appreciative of its lenders’ ongoing support, and the company looks forward to continuing to work with its lenders to position us for long-term success.”