AUA Private Equity completes dividend recap of Blue Star

AUA Private Equity Partners has completed a dividend recapitalization of portfolio company Blue Star Media. The recap returned about 25 percent of investment capital to AUA’s investors. Financial terms weren’t announced. Blue Star on Monday announced its buy of VEE Corp., a family entertainment production company based in Minneapolis.

PRESS RELEASE

New York, NY (April 7, 2015) – AUA Private Equity Partners (“AUA Equity”) is pleased to announce that Blue Star Media (“Blue Star”), a leading producer and promoter of consumer shows and events, has announced the acquisition of Minneapolis based VEE Corporation (“VEE”). In conjunction with the acquisition of VEE, AUA Private Equity Partners has completed a dividend recapitalization of Blue Star, returning approximately 25% of invested capital to its investors within 10 months of the firm’s original investment. Terms of the transaction and the recapitalization were not disclosed.

VEE is one of the most experienced and respected names in family-friendly entertainment. Noted for their 35-year partnership with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind the award-winning television program Sesame Street, to produce Sesame Street Live, VEE has entertained millions of children, parents and caregivers around the world with its live touring stage shows. Historic VEE productions were based on beloved television properties including Dragon Tales, Jim Henson’s The Muppets and Muppet Babies, Bear in the Big Blue House, Curious George and Barney. Also, with the expertise of its specialized subsidiaries, VEE Production Services and Costumes & Creatures, VEE is recognized for its production workshop which provides entertainment, promotion and event marketing services for other brands through custom-designed shows, mascots, and other promotional events.

“I have admired VEE Corporation for many years and am very excited about the synergies they add to our business,” said Sanjay Syal, CEO of Blue Star, who will continue to lead both companies through their next stage of growth. “With their international experience, and venue and licensor relationships, they will accelerate our growth both in the United States and abroad.”

Together the companies will own, operate and promote three North American tours including: Discover the Dinosaurs, a dinosaur-themed, family-oriented, educational and entertainment touring exhibit; Sesame Street Live, a Broadway-quality musical production, produced in cooperation with Sesame Workshop; and Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival, a lifestyle event that entertains beyond a traditional stage show offering a unique, multi-component festival atmosphere, produced in partnership with Sanrio, the global lifestyle brand best known for Hello Kitty.

“Like Blue Star, VEE has also been a strong leader in their industry, and the combined companies will give us diversification and an even broader market presence,” said David Benyaminy, Partner at AUA Equity. “We look forward to partnering with VEE as we work together to build Blue Star into a leading multi-concept event, media and entertainment platform.”

The AUA Equity deal team was comprised of Partner David Benyaminy and Senior Associate Jack Lin. Debt financing on Blue Star was led by Investors Bank. Faegre Baker Daniels LLP provided legal advice to AUA Equity and Blue Star, and Stinson Leonard Street LLP provided legal advice to the seller.

ABOUT AUA PRIVATE EQUITY PARTNERS
AUA Private Equity Partners is a New York-based, operationally-focused, lower middle-market private equity firm making control and significant minority equity investments in companies in the consumer, media, and business services sectors with a particular focus on U.S. Hispanic-oriented companies and/or family owned businesses. AUA Private Equity Partners is a next generation investment manager successfully capturing the rising tide of the evolving U.S. demographic landscape.

ABOUT BLUE STAR MEDIA LLC
Blue Star Media LLC is based in Shoreview, MN is one of the nation’s leading producers and promoters of consumer shows and events. Having promoted more than 2,000 shows over the last 20 years. The company currently own, operates and promotes Discover the Dinosaurs, a dinosaur-themed, children and family-oriented, educational and entertainment touring exhibit and show. Since 2012, approximately three million visitors have attended Discover the Dinosaurs. Over 140 cities are on the U.S. tour in 2015.

ABOUT VEE CORPORATION
Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, VEE Corporation is one of the most experienced and respected names in family-friendly entertainment. VEE Corporation has delighted millions of children around the world with live touring stage shows since Sesame Street Live’s debut performance in 1980. VEE also provides entertainment, promotion and event marketing services for the world’s most respected brands and agencies. Clients and partners in the corporate, sports, museum and event marketing sector come to VEE for imaginative solutions to capture the undivided attention of their customers and audiences through custom designed/built interactive environments.