GTCR in $200m IP venture

The Chicago-based firm and media intellectual property investors Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman will invest $200 million to acquire, manage and exploit entertainment copyrights.

US firm GTCR Golder Rauner has again partnered with industry executives to target a specific sector, this time teaming up with media veterans Eric Ellenbogen and John Engelman and pledging to invest roughly $200 million (€138 million).

The joint venture, Boomerang Media, will invest in entertainment copyrights and related intellectual property.  GTCR vice president Eric Sondag said in a statement that the “management and exploitation of intellectual property rights for iconic entertainment franchises” is a unique niche with numerous investment opportunities.

Private equity investors have increasingly come to view intellectual property rights as an attractive asset class over the past few years. In June 2007 private equity secondaries firm Coller Capital announced plans to launch an IP investment vehicle that will invest $200 million per year over seven to 10 years.

Also in June, Dutch mid-market buyout firm Gilde Buy-Out Partners bought IP consulting group Novagraaf Holding from European firms Alpinvest and Halder for an undisclosed amount. Gilde said at the time that the acquisition reflected the firm’s belief that IP would play an increasingly important role in the economy going forward.

GTCR will back Boomerang with capital from  GTCR Fund IX, a $2.75 billion fund that closed in 2006, while Ellenbogen and Engelman will act as co-chief executives. In 2000 the two founded Classic Media, which acquired children’s franchises such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Lassie and Veggie Tales. Before, they were co-CEOs of Broadway Video Entertainment, which managed film and television libraries founded by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels. Ellenbogen was also president and CEO of comic book titan Marvel Entertainment, where he launched the profitable Spider Man film franchise.

Earlier this month GTCR partnered with Clorox executive Richard Conti to form Aspire Brands, a $250 million venture that will invest in businesses in the branded consumer products industry. Aspire was also backed with funds from Fund IX.