STX is getting an investment from Liberty Global, the latest deal made by John Malone’s international TV and broadband company. As part of the stake pact, Liberty Global chief programming officer Bruce Mann will join STX’s board of directors.
No terms or amounts were disclosed in the press release STX sent out this afternoon, but a person familiar with the investment described it as “significant” and said it values the studio founded by Robert Simonds and TPG Growth’s Bill McGlashan at $1.5B. The infusion comes ahead of a planned IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange sometime next year in which the company plans to raise $500M.
Last year, STX ramped up plans to build itself into a major entertainment company along the lines of Time Warner or Viacom. Liberty’s international heft and content-hungry customer base could offer a key boost, as could Malone’s status as a major shareholder in Lionsgate, which just acquired Starz. London-based Liberty Global is the industry’s top international operator, doing business in more than 30 countries with 24 million customers subscribing to its TV, Internet and telephony services. It has another 10 million mobile subscribers.
“Having one of the world’s biggest content distributors incentivized in STX’s continued success is gratifying confirmation of our brand and business strategy,” said STX chairman and CEO Robert Simonds. “We look forward to benefiting from Bruce and Liberty Global’s counsel to accelerate our plans for expansion.”
Mann joins a STX board includes leaders from private equity firms TPG and China-based Hony Capital, Chinese Internet giant Tencent, Hong Kong telco PCCW, and the business interests of Gigi Pritzker and Dominic Ng among others.
In July, TPG Growth, whose parent TPG also owns a majority stake in CAA, teamed with Liberty Global to launch a worldwide television production and distribution studio dubbed Platform One Media. It took a minority equity stake via Liberty Global Group in its first major foray into TV production and distribution.
At the time, Mann signaled the idea behind the venture, saying, “Platform One Media has the key ingredients Liberty Global values in a strategic asset: great leadership, a clear vision and aligned, well capitalized partners. It also gives us the opportunity to work with world-class talent creating high-quality scripted programming which could potentially feature on Liberty Global’s pay-TV platforms in Europe.”
The STX deal would seem to expand on that idea. Its movie side STXfilms just released the Jackie Chan-starring U.S.-China co-production The Foreigner and A Bad Moms Christmas, the follow-up to its biggest theatrical hit to date. It will bow the Aaron Sorkin-directed Molly’s Game on December 25 in a major awards-season play.
Meanwhile, STXtv recently announced Valley of the Boom, which will premiere globally on National Geographic.