Blackstone (NYSE:BX) announced today, July 1, that funds managed by its Tactical Opportunities business (Blackstone) have agreed to acquire a majority stake in the Certified Collectibles Group (CCG) in a transaction valuing the company at more than $500 million.
Mark Salzberg, CCG’s founder, and Steven R. Eichenbaum, CCG’s CEO, will retain a significant minority stake, according to the announcement.
Additional investors in today’s transaction include Roc Nation; Michael Rubin, founder and executive chairman of Fanatics; SC.Holdings, a growth equity platform; Mastry, founded by Rudy Cline-Thomas; Andre Iguodala; Daryl Morey, president of Basketball Operations for the Philadelphia 76ers; and Main Street Advisors, an investment advisory firm to prominent athletes, recording artists and others in entertainment and business.
Founded in 1987, CCG offers authentication, grading and conservation services that have unlocked billions of dollars in secondary market value. It has offices on three continents.
According to the announcement, "Blackstone will seek to accelerate CCG’s growth, enabling the company to invest significantly in its current and planned services, adding and training new employees, expanding its geographic and product reach, acquiring new technologies and developing its digital presence. Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms with nearly $650 billion in assets under management and a strong track record of creating value and a positive impact for the companies it acquires and the communities that they serve."
C. C. Melvin Ike, principal at Blackstone, said: “As thematic investors, we look for exceptional entrepreneurial teams succeeding in growing markets, and CCG is a great example. We have been closely following the rise of the global physical and digital collectibles industry for several years and we were drawn to CCG because of their leadership role in the categories that they serve, and Blackstone’s ability to grow the platform through both organic and inorganic initiatives. We look forward to working together to help the company continue and even accelerate its impressive growth trajectory.”
CCG’s leadership team will remain in place. Over the last 35 years, CCG has expanded from collectible coins to comic books, bank notes, magazines, concert posters, stamps, trading cards, sports cards and estate items. The firm has certified more than 62 million of these collectibles, with a combined fair market value approaching $50 billion.
“When I established CCG, I had a vision that we would transform collectibles into an asset class that is trusted by collectors, dealers and investors around the world," said Salzberg. "It has been incredible to be a part of this journey as we achieved and then exceeded these goals. I am excited to join with Blackstone as we enter the next phase of growth for CCG and the collectibles market.”
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Blackstone during this key point in the industry as the collectibles market continues to accelerate and attract new collectors and investors,” added Eichenbaum. “From the moment we met the Blackstone team, we could tell that we shared the same vision for the future of our company and the global collectibles industry.”
Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to CCG. Duane Morris acted as legal advisor to CCG. Weil, Gotshal & Manges acted as lead legal advisor to Blackstone. Golub Capital led the financing for the transaction.