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Skydance Reveals $400 Million Investment from KKR and Ellison Family

New funding round values company at more than $4 billion; money earmarked to accelerate growth in sports and interactive entertainment as well as grow animation division.

Skydance Media has completed a $400 million strategic investment round led by KKR and The Ellison family, who remain the Company’s majority shareholders. Existing investors RedBird Capital Partners and Tencent also participated in the fundraise, which values Skydance at over $4 billion.

The addition of KKR as a new strategic investor further solidifies Skydance’s position as a leading independent global media company. The capital raise and access to the expertise and global network of KKR will also help accelerate Skydance’s growth initiatives in sports and interactive entertainment, as well as the continued scaling of existing verticals such as animation. Skydance Animation released its first animated feature film, the Peggy Holmes directed Luck, earlier this year on Apple TV+. It’s next film, Spellbound, directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek), also being produced with Apple Original Films, is currently in production. This past February, the company announced its biggest animation production to date, Oscar-winning Ratatouille and Incredibles director Brad Bird’s Ray Gunn. The company signaled it's serious animated feature film production plans with the 2020 purchase of Ilion Animation Studios, the Spanish studio where most of its productions were underway.

Skydance Media’s CEO, David Ellison, said, “The investment from KKR creates a powerful strategic partnership with a firm at the forefront of the evolution of technology and interactive entertainment, all of which are key propellers in the next phase of Skydance’s growth. Having KKR in our corner as thought partners and engaged collaborators will help us to execute on the many opportunities we see in front of us. We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of our long-term strategic investors – RedBird, who has championed our sports strategy, as well as Tencent and CJ ENM, who have each helped to drive our global growth and diversification.” 

According to the company, Skydance’s cross-platform approach to IP creation, ownership and distribution, combined with deep relationships with content, talent and technology partners have bolstered the Company’s scalability and earnings potential across its industry leading divisions. The Company’ successful entertainment franchises include the recent record-setting release of Top Gun: Maverick.  A company statement notes, “Skydance’s content has also consistently overperformed on multiple streamers including chart-topping results on Amazon, Apple and Netflix, as well as video game releases on interactive platforms.”

Jenny Box, Partner and Co-Head of KKR’s Strategic Investments Group, said, “We are delighted to invest behind Skydance, David Ellison and the impressive, differentiated team of creative and entrepreneurial talent he has assembled.” Ted Oberwager, Partner, who leads the gaming, entertainment, media and sports verticals within KKR’s Americas Private Equity business, added, “Skydance has already created a diverse collection of premium content across multiple formats, and we are only in the early stages of what they can accomplish. We look forward supporting the Skydance team as they continue to build their business across TV, film, animation, gaming and sports and tell compelling stories in new and innovative ways.”

KKR is investing in Skydance through funds and accounts managed by its Strategic Investments Group. KKR has numerous investments across media, entertainment and sports businesses, including Axel Springer, ByteDance, Chord Music Partners, Epic Games, FanDuel Group, Leonine Studios, Mediawan, OverDrive, PlayOn! Sports, RBmedia and UFC.

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as financial advisor and Latham & Watkins LLP acted as legal advisor to Skydance. Moelis & Company acted as financial advisor and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP acted as legal advisor to KKR.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.