NBCUniversal and independent investment company Atairos are set to acquire a 30% minority ownership stake in Ryman Hospitality Properties’ subsidiary OEG Attractions Holdings.
OEG Attractions Holdings directly or indirectly owns the assets that comprise Opry Entertainment Group (OEG), including the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman Auditorium, WSM 650 AM, Ole Red and a 50% interest in the country lifestyle media network Circle (which Ryman Hospitality Properties owns in a joint venture with Gray Television).
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2022.
Atairos’ investment values OEG at $1.415 billion (including OEG’s previously announced acquisition of Block 21, which is expected to close June 1). Atairos has agreed to make an additional $30 million investment in OEG, contingent on certain performance targets being met. The initial $1.415 billion valuation includes a recapitalization of OEG with a new $300 million Term Loan B and the assumption of a $137 million CMBS facility for Block 21 upon consummation of that transaction. Atairos’ and NBCUniversal’s initial 30% equity investment in OEG will be approximately $293 million, with Atairos directly investing approximately $278 million and NBCUniversal directly investing up to approximately $15 million.
Once the transaction is complete, Ryman Hospitality Properties will retain a controlling 70% interest in OEG, with chairman and CEO Colin Reed serving as executive chairman of OEG. Atairos will enter into an LLC agreement with Ryman Hospitality Properties and OEG upon the closing of the investment. Atairos partners Alex Evans and Jackson Phillips will join OEG’s board of directors, which will be comprised of four Ryman Hospitality Properties directors and two Atairos directors.
In a statement, Reed said, “Back in June 2021, given the unsolicited interest we had received, we embarked on a formal process to identify a strategic partner that shares our vision for growing OEG to a position where it can operate independently of our core hospitality business while enabling our shareholders to participate in the significant upside for OEG that lies ahead. We view this partnership as a significant opportunity to strengthen these beloved institutions and cement their influence on American music culture.”
Michael Angelakis, chairman/CEO of Atairos, added, “OEG’s dynamic collection of entertainment venues, digital content and iconic country music brands provide a strong foundation for continued growth as a fully-integrated country lifestyle platform. We are excited to partner with the RHP and OEG teams to explore new content distribution strategies and support their ambition of becoming the leading player in country lifestyle live entertainment and media content.”
In his own statement, David Pietrycha, executive vp of strategy and business development at NBCUniversal, added, “We are excited to invest in OEG alongside our strategic partner Atairos. We look forward to exploring opportunities to leverage our media, technology and content creation expertise to help OEG accelerate its plans and bring its iconic brands, as well as artists and storied cities, to music lovers worldwide.”