Endeavor acquires majority stake in On Location Experiences, NFL grows shareholding

Endeavor has acquired a majority stake in premium hospitality company On Location Experiences in a deal worth $660m (€589.8m).

The global sports and entertainment agency has acquired the two separate 33-per-cent shareholdings held by private investors Redbird Capital and Bruin Sports Capital, the private equity firm founded by former IMG executive George Pyne. Endeavor has also secured a smaller 10-per-cent stake held by the Carlyle Group.

As part of the deal, the hospitality company’s founder, the NFL, is thought to have increased its 16-per-cent shareholding through its strategic investment arm, 32 Equity,  and will retain its seat on the company’s board of directors. SportBusiness understands the league had wanted to increase its stake in On Location to 32 per cent although the final deal fell some way short of this figure.

On Location provides curated hospitality, ticketing, live event production and travel management services for over 150 rights-holders, including the NFL, NCAA, the tennis grand slams and PGA of America. Its most significant asset is a package of tickets to the Super Bowl offering premium experiences such as on-field and post-game access to corporate clients and high-net-worth individuals.

The $660m deal figure represent a nearly ten-fold return on the combined $70m investment in On Location made by Redbird, Bruin and the Carlyle Group. Since acquiring stakes in the company in 2015, the private investors have sought to build out its capabilities, acquiring leading university and sports travel company Anthony Travel in 2016, hospitality rival Prime Sport in December 2017 and VIP concert experience company Future Beat in October 2018.

The purchases have helped On Location to grow from a position of having the NFL as its only client and posting $35m in annual revenues in 2015 to now boasting over 150 clients and generating $600m in annual revenues.

Endeavor’s interest in On Location was first reported in April last year but Endeavor’s postponed IPO is thought to have delayed the transaction. Negotiations over increasing the NFL’s share in the new entity also had to take place before the deal could be concluded.

A statement from Endeavor indicated the company will look to leverage its access to content and experiences across entertainment, sports and fashion to enhance On Location’s existing hospitality offering. When reports of a deal first emerged last year, sources said Endeavor’s sales pitch to the NFL included commitments to use its strengths in athlete representation to realise cost synergies and unlock value at the company which offers athlete appearances to hospitality clients among other services.

Endeavor chief executive Ariel Emanuel said: “By bringing together a leader like On Location with Endeavor’s access and reach, we can advance the way consumers and brands think about money-can’t-buy experiences.

“Partnering with the NFL will enable us to leverage the best-in-class executions around one of the biggest events in the world, the Super Bowl, and extend this same level of service and experiences to other sports and entertainment properties globally.”

As part of the deal, the NFL will enhance its strategic partnership with On Location and has extended the company’s license to the annual package of Super Bowl tickets.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league is “excited to partner with Endeavor to grow On Location Experiences globally”. He added: “We are committed to offering NFL fans unique and first-class experiences at our events. On Location shares this commitment and delivers value for its partners and delights fans at events around the world.”

Endeavor has appointed former Time Inc and Bloomberg Media executive Paul Caine to replace John Collins as president of the new entity, overseeing On Location’s integration into Endeavor.

Caine has no sports experience but has extensive experience in the music industry – a potential growth area for On Location – having previously worked for the Westwood One radio network. He knows Endeavor president Mark Shapiro from the time he worked as a publisher of celebrity title People magazine and Shapiro served as chief executive and executive producer at Dick Clark Productions.

Outgoing president Collins is understood to have benefited from the sale, having secured a small equity stake in On Location when he was hired from the NHL in 2015.

Before Collins became president, On Location was run out of Bruin Sports Capital’s office in New York. At one stage, the private equity firm founded by former IMG and Nascar executive George Pyne, held the largest stake in the hospitality company, but Redbird Capital matched its 33-per-cent shareholding when it bought a minority stake held by musician Jon Bon Jovi.

Bruin Sports Capital is also exploring a sale for its sports streaming company Deltatre.

SportBusiness understands that Evercore, the New York-based investment advisory firm, has been appointed to explore options, including a sale valuing the company at $1bn or above.

Latham & Watkins LLP served Endeavor as legal advisor and The Raine Group as financial advisor in the On Location acquisition. Paul Hastings LLP served as legal advisor to On Location with Ropes & Gray LLP serving as the legal advisor to the NFL.