Former IMG Sports President Raises $250 Million, Launches Bruin Sports Capital

George Pyne’s new venture — aligned with WPP — is a privately held media, sports, marketing and branded lifestyle company

Last Updated: January 6, 2015 @ 6:38 AM

The former President of Sports & Entertainment at IMG Worldwide, George Pyne, has raised $250 million in equity and launched sports marketing company Bruin Sports Capital on Tuesday.

“Identifying unique opportunities, attracting world-class management teams, establishing a culture of innovation and creating real value is what will make up Bruin Sports Capital’s DNA,: Pyne said.  “The firm will be opportunistic and nimble in pursuit of its goals. The key points of differentiation that will define Bruin Sports Capital include its unparalleled access to the best deals; long-term, flexible capital; extensive operating expertise; strategic capital and global resources in WPP and other investors; and finally, our speed of execution.”

Pyne left WME-owned IMG last summer; at the time he began raising money for a new venture, one that we now know. Last month, IMG cut 100 employees; seven months after it was acquired by WME.

As TheWrap reported, there were no specific departments targeted and belt-tightening would span across European operations.

“WPP’s investment in sports and content through Bruin Sports Capital is an important part of its strategy as it impacts new markets, new media, data investment management and the application of technology and horizontality,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder and CEO of WPP.  “George is a major talent in the sports business world and based on his track record, I am confident that the clients who work with WPP’s operating companies will be given access to many high-value media and sponsorship opportunities. GroupM, our wholly owned media investment management company, manages over $100 billion in billings (according to RECMA), and there is growing interest on the part of clients that it invests some of that portfolio in content and sports.”

“This is an unprecedented capital raising milestone for Bruin Sports Capital, which we reached in a very short time,” added Pyne. “Our partnership with WPP, whose global resources and record of accomplishments for delivering results, along with the capabilities and influence of the other global investors, provides Bruin Sports Capital with unmatchable reach and the ability to execute. Sir Martin Sorrell and WPP are builders of global businesses, which will benefit Bruin Sports Capital greatly. I am thrilled to be partnering with Sorrell, WPP and a truly global syndicate of investors. These relationships will allow us to maximize the opportunities we have identified throughout the sports and entertainment spaces and create exceptional value for our investors.”

Here is the full press release:

George Pyne, former President of Sports & Entertainment at IMG Worldwide, today announced the launch of Bruin Sports Capital and the conclusion of a $250 million equity round, providing $500 million in buying power. This initial round of fundraising was conducted over a six month period of time.

The new venture, a privately held media, sports, marketing and branded lifestyle company, will leverage Pyne’s 25-year track record of building businesses and creating shareholder value.  The company will acquire, build and operate businesses on a global basis.  “Identifying unique opportunities, attracting world-class management teams, establishing a culture of innovation and creating real value is what will make up Bruin Sports Capital’s DNA.  The firm will be opportunistic and nimble in pursuit of its goals. The key points of differentiation that will define Bruin Sports Capital include its unparalleled access to the best deals; long-term, flexible capital; extensive operating expertise; strategic capital and global resources in WPP and other investors; and finally, our speed of execution,” said Pyne.

Bruin Sports Capital retained Allen & Company LLC, a New York based investment bank, in June 2014 to assist in securing funds for the new venture. Together, they have aligned the firm with WPP, the world’s largest communications services group and an international syndicate of investors. This access to capital and focus on long-term growth and value creation, coupled with Pyne’s lifelong immersion in sports, positions the firm as an unrivaled leader in the investment space.

“WPP’s investment in sports and content through Bruin Sports Capital is an important part of its strategy as it impacts new markets, new media, data investment management and the application of technology and horizontality,” said Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder and CEO of WPP.  “George is a major talent in the sports business world and based on his track record, I am confident that the clients who work with WPP’s operating companies will be given access to many high-value media and sponsorship opportunities. GroupM, our wholly owned media investment management company, manages over $100 billion in billings (according to RECMA), and there is growing interest on the part of clients that it invests some of that portfolio in content and sports.”   

“This is an unprecedented capital raising milestone for Bruin Sports Capital, which we reached in a very short time,” added Pyne. “Our partnership with WPP, whose global resources and record of accomplishments for delivering results, along with the capabilities and influence of the other global investors, provides Bruin Sports Capital with unmatchable reach and the ability to execute. Sir Martin Sorrell and WPP are builders of global businesses, which will benefit Bruin Sports Capital greatly. I am thrilled to be partnering with Sorrell, WPP and a truly global syndicate of investors. These relationships will allow us to maximize the opportunities we have identified throughout the sports and entertainment spaces and create exceptional value for our investors.”

Throughout his career, Pyne has created billions of dollars in shareholder value for NASCAR and IMG combined, and has recruited and led talented executives to transform both companies. Pyne was the driving force behind the prolific growth of many of IMG’s divisions during his nine-year tenure, which resulted in the company’s $2.4 billion sale to William Morris Endeavor.

Pyne has been recognized as one of the most influential people in professional sports by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Sporting News and the Sports Business Journal. He is a member of the Sports Business Journal’s Hall of Fame and the National Football Foundation’s Leadership Hall of Fame. He has been hailed by Advertising Age as one of its “Top 100 Marketers.”  Pyne has also received the NCAA’s Silver Anniversary Award for lifetime achievement and will be recognized in January 2015 by the Ivy League Football Association for lifetime achievement.