Private equity firm Blackstone Group has acquired Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, with former Disney exec Kevin Mayer appointed to a new company that will house The Morning Show prodco.
The deal values Hello Sunshine at $900m and comes just five years since the production firm was launched.
Since then, it has been behind shows including HBO’s Big Little Lies and Hulu’s Little Fires Everywhere, as well as aforementioned The Morning Show for Apple TV+.
Exec line-up & ‘content conviction’
Disney alums Mayer and Tom Staggs will oversee operations of the Blackstone-backed company acquiring Hello Sunshine, which is as-yet unnamed.
Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine’s CEO Sarah Harden will join the board of the new, unnamed company and transfer their stakes into it. This company is different to Forest Road Acquisition Corp, a special purchase acquisition company (SPAC) backed by Mayer and Staggs.
Blackstone will fund the rest of the Hello Sunshine deal via $500m cash to buy shares from other investors, according to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news.
The acquisition further highlights the soaring value of production firms, although Hello Sunshine is predominantly a producer for hire and does not hold rights to most of the shows it has been behind.
Apple was among other suitors for the company according to US reports, with the buy-out the latest major Stateside acquisition following Amazon’s recent deal for James Bond producer MGM.
Blackstone’s $2bn warchest
US private equity firm Blackstone reportedly has a ‘warchest’ of $2bn with which it will fund further acquisitions, as the battle for content pushes prodco prices to new heights.
Reports earlier this year suggested the company was looking to acquire Ben Silverman’s Propagate Content, among others.
Joe Baratta, global head of private equity at Blackstone, said that the “rapidly growing demand for high-quality content” was one of his company’s “highest-conviction investment themes.”
Witherspoon said the deal would enable Hello Sunshine to “tell even more entertaining, impactful and illuminating stories about women’s lives globally.”
In a joint statement, Staggs and Mayer described Hello Sunshine as “a perfect fit for our vision of a new, next generation entertainment, technology, and commerce company.”
“We seek to empower creators with innovation, capital, and scale to inspire, entertain, and delight global audiences with engaging content, experiences, and products,” the duo added.
“Our platform will foster a uniquely creator-friendly culture that gives elite talent the resources they need to create and capitalise on their best, most inventive work.”