Hollywood research company MarketCast has just been bought by private equity firm Kohlberg & Company LLC, which is taking over the ownership interest that was held by RLJ Equity Partners and State Street Global Advisors. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is expected to close next month. The company was said to be worth in the neighborhood $150 million-$180 million. This comes after MarketCast was put on the block over the summer.
MarketCast, which is run by CEO Henry Shapiro, provides tracking, testing and data analytics (including marketing material testing, positioning studies, and testing for franchises, etc) for entertainment companies. It is a well-known name in entertainment research with offices in Los Angeles, New York, London and Boston. MarketCast would be the first company of its kind in Kohlberg’s portfolio.
The company was started by Joseph Helfgot back in the early 1990s when he presented positioning studies to marketing chiefs David Forbes and Tami Masuda at Orion Pictures to better help market their movies. They decided to work with MarketCast, despite pushback from National Research Group and its leader Joe Farrell, who did not take well to others coming in on what was his exclusive domain. In fact, he fought to keep Helfgot out of the market. Didn’t work. Especially after the two movies Helfgot worked on at Orion — Dances With Wolves and The Silence Of The Lambs — went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture among many others.
The sale comes after Jason Pritchett, who was managing director of MarketCast and worked there for more than a decade, left to join competitor NRG, which itself was bought last year by Mark Penn’s Stagwell Group.
Kohlberg, which is taking over the investment, is based in New York and has been around since the late 1980s organizing private equity funds for investments in various businesses.
Lazard Middle Market served as financial advisor to MarketCast. DLA Piper LLP and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP served as legal counsel to MarketCast and its management team. Ropes & Gray LLP served as legal counsel to Kohlberg.