Blackstone-backed media company to buy Moonbug

A new Blackstone-backed media company has agreed to acquire Moonbug Entertainment Ltd, a digital-first, global children’s entertainment company.

A new Blackstone-backed media company has agreed to acquire Moonbug Entertainment Ltd, a digital-first, global children’s entertainment company. No financial terms were disclosed. Entertainment executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs are leading the new media company.

PRESS RELEASE

LONDON & LOS ANGELES & NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Moonbug Entertainment Ltd., the digital-first, global children’s entertainment company, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by the recently formed media company run by leading entertainment executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs and backed by investment capital from Blackstone. Moonbug’s founders CEO René Rechtman and COO John Robson, and existing management team and shareholders, will retain equity stakes in the Mayer-Staggs-Blackstone-backed media company.

Founded in 2018, Moonbug has rapidly built an industry-leading, global family audience through its highly popular shows such as CoComelon, Blippi, Little Baby Bum, and many others. Their content appears in 27 languages on more than 100 platforms around the world such as YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon and Sky. Moonbug shows promote healthy values like compassion, empathy and resilience to kids around the world. Moonbug’s CoComelon is currently the second-most subscribed YouTube channel with approximately 120 million subscribers globally and the most-watched kids show on Netflix.

This marks the second acquisition for Mayer and Staggs’ new media company backed by Blackstone, following the acquisition of Hello Sunshine, the mission-driven media company that puts women at the center of every story it creates, founded by Reese Witherspoon. The business is an independent, creator-friendly home for cutting-edge, high-quality, category-defining brands and franchises. By bringing together elite talent operating at the intersection of content, community, and commerce, it helps to position leading entertainment businesses for accelerated, sustainable growth in the current market and beyond.

René Rechtman said: “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. 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.”

Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs said: “We have known René and his innovative team for years, including during our time together at Disney, and they have built a perfect example of the type of category-defining business we are looking to bring into our company. 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, said: “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.”

Blackstone’s investment is being made through funds affiliated with the firm’s flagship private equity business. The firm has made a range of entertainment, digital and content-focused investments across its businesses, including children-focused global theme park operator Merlin Entertainments; leading water park operator Great Wolf Resorts; leading music rights organization SESAC; a music rights investment partnership with Hipgnosis Song Management; Epidemic Sound, which delivers music to internet content creators across the globe; a significant Hollywood and London studio space real estate portfolio; leading global, online genealogy platform Ancestry.com; and online mobile ad platforms Vungle and Liftoff, among others.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Moonbug was advised on the transaction by The Raine Group LLC and Latham & Watkins, LLP served as legal advisor. Mayer, Staggs, Blackstone, and their new media company were represented by Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP as legal advisor.

About Moonbug Entertainment
Moonbug Entertainment is an award-winning global entertainment company behind some of the most popular kids’ titles in the world. Moonbug’s lineup includes global sensations CoComelon, Blippi, Little Baby Bum, My Magic Pet Morphle, Supa Strikas, Go Buster, Playtime with Twinkle, Gecko’s Garage, ARPO and many more. Moonbug’s titles are available in 27 languages.

In just three years, it has become a kids’ programming powerhouse with a library of more than 550 hours of content, which is distributed on more than 100 platforms globally, including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sky, Tencent, Youku and Roku. In May of 2020, Tubular Labs named Moonbug one of the leading digital kids’ entertainment companies in the world based on the total number of minutes watched worldwide.