Relativity Sports Reborn as Independent Sports and Entertainment

The sports agency that was once piece of the Relativity Media empire claimed rebirth and a new name Monday as it tried to set itself apart from its previously bankrupt parent.

Relativity Sports will henceforward be known as Independent Sports and Entertainment (ISE), which described itself in an announcement as “an integrated sports, media, entertainment and management company.”

The old Relativity Media holds only a small minority stake in the agency, sources said, with supermarket magnate Ron Burkle now becoming the major investor and former Madison Square Garden Co. executive Hank Ratner becoming the president and chief executive officer.

The announcement was timed to the closing of an investment from Burkle. The Los Angeles investor’s company had said last year he would put $30 million into the sports agency. His actual investment could not be confirmed.

Although some employees fled after parent Relativity Media filed for bankruptcy last July, ISE claimed it has retained a bulk of agents and clients from Relativity Sports, with the new agency’s sports business to be headed by Mark Pieper and Fernando Cuza (ISE Baseball), Dan Fegan (ISE Basketball) and Roosevelt Barnes and Doug Hendrickson (ISE Football). The agency said it has more than 300 major league athletes under contract.

The move to separate from the parent company echoes the departure earlier this year of Relativity TV, which broke away after being purchased by senior debt holders of Relativity Media for $125 million. In January, the rechristened Critical Content launched, under the leadership of Tom Forman and Andrew Marcus. The television operation, which focused on reality programming, was viewed by analysts and the markets as being the strongest unit of Relativity Media, which included a film studio, sports agency, fashion agency and branding operation.

The new Independent Sports and Entertainment has ambitions to grow beyond its core sports function to “secure marketing, business and endorsement opportunities across the film, television, fashion, live event, retail and hospitality industries,” the announcement said.

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