ESPN sells majority stake in X Games to private equity firm
ROBERT KURTZ, Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
The X Games, the world’s largest sports and extreme sports festival, is for sale for the first time, following a nearly $1 billion purchase by private equity firm KKR in September.
Kris Jenner, the sport’s founder and CEO, said the X Games had a value of about $1.8 billion and was worth more than $1 billion a year to the organizers, promoters and athletes. He called the sale “a positive for all three” and said it “demonstrates the company’s commitment to the sport and people who love it.”
The sale to KKR comes on the heels of a June $1.9 billion buyout by Blackstone Group, which has plans to turn the X Games into a high-end lifestyle brand. Jenner said he was excited to have a partner with which he could be fully aligned and take the brand to the next level. “Blackstone is the next generation, and it’s the best sports and consumer-based business I’ve ever had,” Jenner said in a May statement.
A deal to sell the four-day event to private equity firm KKR, which will become the majority owner, was announced in September by X Games organizers. The sale is expected to close by the end of the year.
“We have worked tirelessly ever since we discovered we could sell X Games to provide the necessary funding for the expansion of X Games Austin, which will now be known as the X Games of the South,” said X Games president and CEO Richard Stiennon. “This is an incredibly exciting time for our community as we embark on the next chapter in the history of the X Games.”
While Jenner said he was “extremely happy” about the sale, he admitted that the sale is “complicated and will take some time.”
With three weeks to go before the deal is finalized, he acknowledged that there are issues to be worked out, beginning with the financing required to complete the transaction, which is expected to be $200 million, not including future expansion costs.
“It’s important to remember that this is not just about getting some cash