Atairos Group, Not CAA Owner, to Acquire College Sports Licensor Learfield

The Hollywood Reporter

Atairos Group is set to acquire college sports licensor Learfield, which sells media and marketing rights for 120 college programs including the University of Alabama, Penn State University, the University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M as well as conferences like the Big Ten.

Atairos beat out CAA owner TPG for the company, effectively ending its bid to move into the same space that WME/IMG already dominates. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this week that TPG had made an offer of $1.2 billion for Learfield.

Financial terms of Atairos' winning bid were not disclosed.

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"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 Saturday in a statement.

Brown will stay on Learfield's senior management team, who will all remain shareholders in the company. 

Providence Equity Partners, which acquired a controlling interest in Learfield three years ago, began exploring a sale of the Texas-based company back in July and enlisted Moelis & Co. to find a buyer. At the time, Learfield was expected to fetch as much as $1 billion in a sale, and WME/IMG, with its own Collegiate Licensing Company, was hinted at as a suitable fit. 

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