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Learfield sold to NY-based Atairos

October 11, 2016 at 1:44 a.m. | Updated October 11, 2016 at 2:01 p.m.
In this map captured from its website on Oct. 11, 2016, Learfield Sports depicts the 120 universities who partner with the company to produce sports programming.

Learfield Communications Inc., a leading provider of integrated marketing solutions in college sports, has entered into an agreement to be acquired by Atairos Group Inc. from Providence Equity Partners.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Learfield is based in Jefferson City and was founded in 1972 as Missouri Network.

Ataoris is an independent private company focused on supporting growth-oriented businesses.

"As we continue to execute on our long-term strategic growth plan and deliver best-in-class services and support to our collegiate partners, we are excited to partner with Atairos and look forward to their expertise and support," Learfield President and CEO Greg Brown said.

"Over the last three years with Providence, our core multimedia rights business grew substantially, while we developed new digital offerings, an extensive national sales platform, and built out additional products and services through acquisitions, strategic partnerships and organic initiatives. We are well positioned to pursue our robust growth strategy in partnership with Atairos, a long-term investor which brings complementary resources and a close relationship with Comcast-NBCUniversal."

Brown will continue to lead the senior management team, all of whom will remain shareholders in the company. Aside from new growth investments, there are no plans to change the staffing, management or operations of the company.

"We have admired Learfield for quite some time and have tremendous confidence in Greg Brown and his leadership team," said Michael Angelakis, chairman and CEO of Atairos. 

"We believe that our sector expertise combined with our long-term investment approach will enable the company to accelerate its growth initiatives, achieve its strategic goals, and continue to deliver world-class solutions to its clients and partners."

Based on Atairos' strategic relationships, including a partnership with Comcast-NBCUniversal, Learfield anticipates potential collaborations to develop new opportunities, services and insights for its collegiate partners, particularly in programming, digital capabilities and social media, according to the release.

Michael Dominguez, managing director at Providence Equity, said, "We have enjoyed a tremendous partnership with Greg and the entire Learfield team, and we are extremely gratified to have helped them identify and execute innovative opportunities to serve their customers."

Providence acquired a majority stake in Learfield in September 2013, and over the past three years Learfield has added 10 businesses through acquisitions, including Nelligan Sports Marketing, LRG, SIDEARM Sports, Strategic Marketing Affiliates, ANC, Front Row Marketing Services' collegiate MMR properties, KP Sports, Think Social, SME and GoVision.

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