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Sports-media partner of Texas, SMU, TCU, A&M, UNT avoids bankruptcy with $600M-plus deal

One of the nation’s top broadcasting, branding and sponsorship companies for collegiate sports programs made a deal with several private equity firms to reduce its debt by over $600 million.

Plano-based Learfield, which has ties to more than 1,200 collegiate institutions and over 15,000 brand partners, closed the deleveraging transaction with lenders and equity partners that — in addition to cutting its debt in half — also adds $150 million in new equity investment, the company said Wednesday.

Learfield represents the athletics multimedia rights for many Texas schools including Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University, the University of North Texas, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas State University and Texas Tech University, according to the company’s website.

“It frees up more free cash flow for us to invest back into the business and in our people,” Learfield president and CEO Cole Gahagan told The Dallas Morning News. “And by securing this equity infusion, it puts us in an offensive position with more fresh powder to go and innovate and disrupt.”

Business Briefing

Become a business insider with the latest news.Cole Gahagan is president and CEO of Plano-based sports multimedia company Learfield.(Learfield)

Learfield’s majority ownership now includes Clearlake Capital Group LP, Charlesbank Capital Partners and funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Its previous majority owners — Endeavor, Silver Lake and Atairos — will retain equity stakes in the company.

The company offers licensed merchandise, game ticketing, donor identification for athletic programs, exclusive custom content, marketing initiatives, NIL (name, image and likeness) solutions and digital platforms. It has been the title sponsor for the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and USA Today’s Learfield Directors’ Cup since 2008.

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