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Will Smith and Jada Pinkett’s Westbrook Inc. Sells Minority Stake to Blackstone-Backed Media Company

Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs’ venture to be called Candle Media

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett’s Westbrook Inc have sold a minority stake to Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs’ media company, which was finally given a name: Candle Media.

The deal with Westbrook is the latest for the Blackstone-backed venture, which previously acquired Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and “CoComelon” producer Moonbug Entertainment. The company is also closing a deal for “Fauda” producer Faraaway Road Productions.

“We are thrilled to back Will and Jada and for the opportunity to work with Westbrook’s CEO Ko Yada and the rest of their incredibly talented team. They have established Westbrook as a home for world-class creators that is built for the digital age – which fully aligns with our company’s vision for the future of media. We are excited for what we can all achieve together with Blackstone in the years ahead,” Mayer and Staggs said.

The Information was first to report on the deal.

Westbrook Media is the production company behind “Cobra Kai,” “Red Table Talk,” “King Richard” and the upcoming “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” drama reboot on Peacock. Westbrook, which is led by CEO Kosaku Yada and President Tera Hanks, launched in 2019. It sold a dozen shows in 2020.

Westbrook and Mayer/Staggs had earlier discussed a deal that would have seen the unnamed company acquire majority control. Those talks eventually broke down.

Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith commented: “Westbrook is the realization of our dream to give artists from all backgrounds equal opportunities to pursue their creative visions and share their stories.  We are pleased to join forces with Kevin, Tom and Blackstone to accelerate this mission by growing our content pipeline, our talent network, and our global expansion plans.”

Ko Yada, CEO of Westbrook Inc., said: “When we launched Westbrook just two and a half years ago, our mission was to empower artists to connect the world, and we do that through the independent infrastructure we’re building. We started with a focus on premium content across all platforms in a way that would bring creators, artists, brands, and global audiences together. As we look to the next phase of the company, Kevin, Tom and Blackstone are ideal strategic partners. We look forward to this new relationship, building out more infrastructure, and working with more artists to help tell stories that connect.”

Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs are both former Disney executives. Their unnamed media company, not to be confused with the duo’s special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), has the financial backing of Blackstone. The unnamed company has, at minimum, $2 billion behind it.

In a release announcing the name, the company said that the name Candle “reflects the light of creativity at the heart of its model as an independent, creator-friendly home for cutting-edge, high-quality, category-defining brands and franchises.”

This year figures to be another year of deals particularly for content companies. Legendary, Imagine and A24 have all garnered interest from buyers several times. LeBron James’ SpringHill Company sold a minority stake last year to a group led by RedBird Capital Partners, Fenway Sports Group (of which James has a stake of), Nike and Epic Games.

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