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88rising investor Atwater racks up $100m in funding

Atwater Capital, a media and entertainment-focused investment firm, has drawn funding from investment behemoths Goldman Sachs Petershill and KKR.

According to the company, the funding will increase the total backing of Atwater’s new Atwater Capital Fund I, LP to over $100 million.

Atwater’s portfolio includes 88rising, a US-based artist management company, record label and media brand focused on Asian and Asian American artists that hosts the Head in the Clouds festival in Los Angeles and now, Jakarta, Indonesia.

The firm is also a backer of Swedish royalty-free soundtrack provider Epidemic Sound, and wiip Productions, the independent studio behind TV shows such as Mare of Easttown and The Summer I Turned Pretty, among others.

Atwater was founded in 2017 by Vania Schlogel, who sits on the board of Epidemic Sound as a director. She previously served as its chairwoman from 2017 to January of this year, when she was succeeded by former Shazam boss Andrew Fisher.

“It is a hugely exciting time to be investing in media and entertainment, an asset class which is acyclical and buoyed by both digitisation and significant growth in global demand,” says Schlogel.

“We view the commitments from these two blue-chip financial institutions as a strong confirmation of [our] long-term vision”

“We are delighted to be able to partner with Goldman Sachs Petershill, a recognised leader in sponsoring and supporting private equity firms globally, alongside the world-class team at KKR, as we launch our inaugural fund. We view the anchor commitments from these two blue-chip financial institutions as a strong confirmation of the long-term vision that we have for the Atwater platform.”

Schlogel served as a former member of KKR’s Private Equity team from 2009 to 2014, specialising in the media sector. She is also known as the former chief investment officer of Roc Nation, and the CIO of another then-Jay-Z-owned company, TIDAL.

“We are delighted to invest with Vania and her team as they identify and back a group of extraordinary media and entertainment entrepreneurs,” says KKR partners Philipp Freise and Ted Oberwager.

Alisa Amarosa Wood, partner at KKR, adds: “This is the continuation of the great relationship we have built over many years of collaboration with Vania – from her time at KKR and beyond. She shares our values, our partnership-oriented approach, and we are truly thrilled to be investing alongside her in this new endeavour.”

Christian von Schimmelmann, co-head of Goldman Sachs Petershill, adds: “We have a history of partnering with successful private equity firms globally and are excited to welcome Atwater as a natural addition to the Goldman Sachs Petershill family.”

“We look forward to providing strategic support as Atwater builds upon its history of investing in groundbreaking people and the companies they operate.”


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$150m for ‘for-sale’ Pandora as Ticketfly up 25%

Ticketfly’s turnover increased 25% in the first financial quarter (Q1) of 2017, with ticketing once again proving the most consistent source of growth for troubled parent company Pandora.

Pandora’s ‘ticketing service’ revenues grew to US$27.8 million, roughly 9% of the internet radio/streaming giant’s total turnover of $316m – which grew 6.3% year on year, although losses also widened from $115.1m to $132.3m.

Primary ticketing platform Ticketfly, founded by Andrew Dreskin (ex-TicketWeb), grew revenue 25%, to $86.6m, in 2016 – its first full year as a division of Pandora Media.

The release of its latest set of financials comes amid the injection of $150m of new capital into Pandora by private-equity firm KKR (the same company which helped finance William Morris’s acquisition of Ultimate Fighting Championship). “We are excited to support the long-term growth of Pandora with this investment,” comments KKR’s Richard Sarnoff, who joins the company’s board. “A true pioneer in digital music, we believe that Pandora is uniquely positioned over the long term given the sheer size of its user base, the quality of its new subscription services and the fact that it has created one of the few scaled streaming-media businesses in the US.”

“We are excited to support the long-term growth of Pandora with this investment”

It has been speculated, however, that Pandora is targeting an acquisition within the next 30 days – before the KKR deal comes into force. “Sources familiar with the company’s thinking” tell CNBC that its leadership sees the investment as an “insurance policy of sorts that effectively gives the company a 30-day option to sell itself – which it thinks it can do.”

Pandora concurrently announced a restructuring of its board, setting up an independent committee chaired by independent director Tim Leiweke (the ex-AEG CEO who now runs Oak View Group) to identify “additional expertise and leadership as the company moves forward”.

At the time of writing, its share price had fallen to $9.90, from an all-time high of $37.42 in February 2014 – during which time its streaming business has been eclipsed by on-demand rivals such as Spotify and Apple Music, despite the recent launch of its own Premium platform.

Pandora last July rejected a takeover offer by Greg Maffei’s Liberty Media, which owns roughly a third of Live Nation. Reports suggested its board felt the company was worth closer to $20 per share, rather than the $15 offered by Liberty.


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