UPDATED, Wed. 10:07 AM: A big shake-up at Relativity today, with word coming that the employment of Co-Chief Operating Officer Greg Shamo is also being terminated today and that billionaire Ron Burkle is taking over its sports division after its head Happy Walters was pushed out.
“As a major investor in Relativity Sports, Relativity Media looks forward to working closely with Ron Burkle and The Yucaipa Companies as they invest in the company’s growth,” Relativity said about Burkle’s commitment. The billionaire bought a significant equity stake in the company in 2012 and is still in the Relativity game, so to speak.
Relativity sent out another statement at 10 AM today after Deadline heard of yet another executive being let go: “As Relativity continues to position itself to emerge from Chapter 11, Ryan Kavanaugh has terminated the employment of both Chief Financial Officer Andrew Matthews and President of Relativity Sports Happy Walters.” A source close to the company said that Kavanaugh also intends to terminate the employment of Co-Chief Operating Officer Greg Shamo today.
Meanwhile, Walters sent out a press release with his own spin on the situation. That he left to establish a new sports and media company. He also sent out this statement: “I have great respect and admiration for the talented agents I brought to Relativity Sports, and I leave confident that the company is in good hands. I want to thank Ryan for his vision to get Relativity’s sports platform going. With Ron Burkle taking over the chairmanship of Sports, there is a solid foundation for continued growth, and I wish the company much success. This is the appropriate time for me to write the next chapter of my career, and I look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.”
Walters said he will announce the plans for his new venture in the near future.
PREVIOUSLY, Wed, 9:25 AM: The fallout from the Relativity Chapter 11 ruling is coming swiftly this morning with expected changes surrounding the Sports Division expected today, its Chief Financial Officer and Co-Chief Operating Officer just exiting, and international buyers are rethinking their business relationships with the company.
The Sports division, which is said to be riddled with lawsuits, is expected to be hit with big changes today as well. The sports management company negotiates and gives advice to a number of professional athletes as well as coaches/managers in baseball, football, and basketball. Happy Walters oversees that and is not expected to stay. Walters has over 40 clients including several NBA players, like Washington All-Star John Wall and Miami’s Amar’e Stoudemire.
Walters joined Relativity in 2009 as President of Relativity Music, a division of Relativity, and also founded Relativity’s then fledgling sports management platform, Rogue Sports. Within three years, he grew the company. Walters also helped manage the careers of NBA athletes such as Jimmy Butler, Iman Shumpert, Ty Lawson and Dwight Howard, as well as NFL players such as Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant, Leonard Williams and Marshawn Lynch.
Prior to joining Relativity, Walters was the founder and CEO of Buzztone Music, an artist management company representing recording artists. He later founded his own independent record label, Immortal Records, developing the careers of such seminal artists as Cypress Hill, House of Pain, Wu Tang Clan, Korn, and Incubus.
Relativity had no comment.
In addition, the studio is now without a financial topper as Andrew Matthews was said to be forced out. His exit first reported by Deadline sister pub Variety. Also, its international partners are giving a hard look at their relationships with Relativity.
While a source close to the company said that Relativity will look for a replacement for Matthews, they will also have to do some goodwill gestures to their international partners who told Deadline earlier today that they have been kept in the dark by their partner the entire time. This comes also one day after Relativity president Tucker Tooley exited in a mutual agreement with the company yesterday.
Yesterday, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Wiles gave the nod for the Stalking Horse to take over Relativity’s TV operations. In the deal he endorsed, the Stalking Horse Bidders which includes Cortland Capital, Anchorage Capital, Falcon Investment Advisors, and Luxor Capital agreed to forgive $125 million worth of debt in exchange for the properties.
Yet to be determined is the fate of Relativity’s other assets including film which Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh is trying to secure. Kavanaugh’s partners include VII Peaks Capital, Joseph Nicholas, and OA3 who say that they plan to raise $60 million to pay Relativity’s debt to Cortland. It also said that it will present a solid plan to the Court in January about how it plans to finance the ongoing operations of Relativity.