The valuation of the deal, which had been rumored in recent weeks, was not specified in the official announcement, but people familiar with the transaction pegged it at $2.75 billion. With earn-out incentives, the final pricetag could reach $3 billion.
Moonbug’s founders CEO René Rechtman and COO John Robson as well as existing management team and shareholders will retain equity stakes in the still-unnamed Mayer/Staggs/Blackstone outfit.
Founded in 2018, Moonbug has offices in the UK and LA. It has quickly built a large global following of family viewers with shows like CoComelon, Blippi, Little Baby Bum and several others. Netflix streams CoComelon in the U.S., where it is frequently in the weekly top 10 rankings of shows in terms of total viewing time.
Moonbug programming appears in 27 languages on more than 100 platforms around the world. In addition to Netflix, it is carried by YouTube, Hulu, HBO, Amazon and Sky. The CoComelon channel on YouTube channel is the No. 2 among all channels on the platform, with approximately 120 million global subscribers.
For Mayer and Staggs, who each were part of the upper management of Disney, the deal is a followup to their acquisition last summer of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. Mayer has been wearing multiple hats, serving as chairman of Len Blavatnik’s sports streaming operation DAZN and recently joining Discovery as a strategic advisor.
“John and I have built a category-leading, digital-first kids entertainment business based on strong values and content that is focused on digital platforms,” Rechtman said. “Our vision is to build global family franchises, which is wholly aligned with Kevin and Tom’s vision and experience. I have had the pleasure of working with them both earlier in my career and am thrilled to be reunited to build the next global powerhouse of entertainment. You could not find stronger partners in our industry.”
In a joint statement, Mayer and Staggs noted their connection to Rechtman dating back to his time at Disney and Maker Studios, which Disney acquired. “They have built a perfect example of the type of category-defining business we are looking to bring into our company,” the execs said of Moonbug. “They know how to identify and support brands that are beloved by millions of families across the globe. We and our partners at Blackstone look forward to helping expand Moonbug’s portfolio of titles and further extend its franchises across digital platforms and key licensing and merchandising channels.”
Joe Baratta, Global Head of Private Equity at Blackstone, and David Kestnbaum, a Senior Managing Director at Blackstone, added, “We are thrilled to partner with René, John, and the impressive Moonbug team. They deeply understand the fast-changing digital media environment and have rapidly established Moonbug as a digital-native powerhouse in children’s entertainment. We are excited to help fuel their continued expansion in the years ahead.”
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