Ron Burkle Closes Multiple Investments in Relativity Media

Ron Burkle Headshot - P 2012
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Ron Burkle Headshot - P 2012

The billionaire investor has plowed an estimated $800 million into the film and TV entity founded by Ryan Kavanaugh.

Ron Burkle and his Yucaipa Cos. investment firm closed a second investment in Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media, sources said Monday.

News that Yucaipa would be buying out much of Elliot Capital Management’s interest in Relativity leaked a few weeks ago, though insiders say a further investment has been made since then.

A press release issued Monday simply confirmed that Yucaipa is now a Relativity shareholder, though it offered no financial details.

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The parties refused to comment Monday on any aspect of the transactions, even to clarify whether Elliot Capital remains a stakeholder or not. Insiders said Jan. 5 that Elliot still held a share of Relativity after Yucaipa’s initial investment.

Sources also said Yucaipa’s multiple investments add up to $800 million or more.

Burkle, a former bag boy at his father’s grocery store, founded Yucaipa in 1986 and the firm has participated in more than $30 billion worth of mergers, acquisitions and investments since then. Burkle's personal fortune is estimated at $3.2 billion.

Relativity represents Burkle’s latest advance into entertainment. He has also helped to finance movies from Harvey and Bob Weinstein and helped finance the launch of Al Gore’s Current TV. He recently bought concert-booking agency Artist Group International and the Soho House Clubs, a chain of private clubs founded in 1995 for people in the creative industries.

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Relativity has fallen on difficult financial times of late though it has financed, distributed or produced 200 movies that have accumulated $17 billion in box office receipts since its founding in 2004. Recent successes include Immortals, Bridesmaids, The Social Network and Battle: Los Angeles. Upcoming titles include Act of Valor, The Raven and Mirror Mirror.

Relativity’s television unit, RelativityReal, has 17 series either airing or set to air.

“We’ve spent a lot of time analyzing the media industry, and have looked at virtually every asset out there,” Burkle said in the press release issued Monday. “Relativity makes sense. They run their business like a business, focusing on profitability, internal rates of return and the factors that many Hollywood based businesses don’t focus on.”