Raine eyes media investment with Freston hire

Global merchant bank The Raine Group has hired former Viacom CEO Tom Freston as its eyes investments in media, entertainment and lifestyle companies.

Freston’s hire as a senior advisor came as Raine completed fundraising of its second equity growth fund, Raine Partners II. The round came in at US$850 million, almost double the US$400 million its first brought in.

Freston, Viacom’s chief executive in 2006 and a co-founder of music channel MTV, is founder of media and entertainment investment and consultancy Firefly3, and serves on the board DreamWorks Animation and Vice Media.

He was fired from his Viacom post at the behest of owner Sumner Redstone, who saw his failure to buy social media platform MySpace for around US$500 million as inexcuseable.

News Corp, instead paid US$580 million for the company, which then nosedived as Facebook and Twitter emerged. Rupert Murdoch sold it on for just US$35 million to a consortium including singer Justin Timberlake in 2011.

Raine pointed to Freston’s “decades of experience and a track record of spotting and nurturing creative talent” as a reason for the hire.

“I’m no stranger to Raine and have watched them build a great and interesting portfolio of companies, as well as a deep and very effective network of contacts,” Freston said.

Jeff Sine and Joe Ravitch launched Raine six years ago in partnership with WME Entertainment, and have since then invested in Matt Stone and Trey Parkers’ production house Important Studios (South Park), youth-skewed multimedia brand Vice, YouTube network Tastemade and social TV platform Whipclip.

The US-based also brokered the launch of TV and film studio STX Entertainment, and has offices in New York, LA, San Francisco and Shaghai.

Senior advisors to the firm include Richard Rosenblatt, formerly CEO of digital content firm Demand Media (now Break Media), ex-NFL Network chief exec Steve Bornstein, and former Viacom global media president Mika Salmi.

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