Equity pact gives group a 9% stake in company

Relativity Media has raised $150 million in equity from about 10 investors, including new coin from existing backer Ron Burkle.

The deal, which gives the investor group a roughly 9% stake in the company, will be used to expand its platform and China-based operations, sources told Variety. Company worked closely with New York-based credit fund Colbeck Capital and investment bank Mesa.

Relativity declined to comment.

Transaction valued Relativity at $1.7 billion — a number which includes the company’s assets, about $350 million of debt, other liabilities and, perhaps most importantly, assumed future value of its operations. But that number also raised eyebrows among some industryites, who considered the valuation to be generous.

Relativity’s operations include a film division, sports business, television production arm RelativityReal, and an investment in China-based production studio SkyLand.

It also includes about $350 million of debt, which Colbeck and Mesa arranged in May.

Supermarket magnate Burkle, a major investor in Colbeck, participated in the latest capital raise but did not anchor the deal, according knowledgeable individuals not authorized to speak publicly. In January, Burkle took a reported $150 million stake in Relativity in a deal that replaced the company’s longtime backer, Elliott Management.

Relativity’s financials and founder Ryan Kavanaugh have been scrutinized in the face of reports he will cede control of the privately held company to investors. But sources close to the company tell Variety that Kavanaugh retains the majority of board seats, while Colbeck and Burkle each have one.

Relativity’s next theatrical release will be omnibus comedy “Movie 43″ in January.

Kavanaugh often touts the success of the company’s television division, which will produce 27 unscripted series by year’s-end, including GSN’s “American Bible Challenge” and MTV’s “Catfish.”

Relativity has also made inroads in China: Last year, the company bought a stake in Chinese production company SkyLand in a deal which allowed Relativity to distribute films domestically (thereby avoiding the labyrinthine film import process). Relativity has since increased its stake to 90%, according to a source close to the investment, and has released two films (“Mirror Mirror” and “Immortals”) in the country.

On the sports front, Relativity’s sports agency reps more than 400 clients, including Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire. Company has sought to integrate sports personalities into its pics and marketing efforts.

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