Management team’s blue-chip industry experience, global network, and track record secures major institutional backing with its differentiated investment strategy
Bluestone Equity Partners (Bluestone), a private equity firm, today announced the successful closing of Bluestone Capital I, L.P., its inaugural $300 million growth equity fund focused on the global sports, media & entertainment industry. Led by Founder & Managing Partner Bobby Sharma and Partner Kyle Charters, Bluestone will target established businesses and proven assets that will benefit from the management team’s unique combination of blue-chip business and investment experience, extensive global network, and successful track record.
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Sharma launches Bluestone as the next chapter in a decorated career spanning finance, strategy, management, operations, and law. His previous roles include Global Head of Basketball & Strategic Initiatives at IMG, General Counsel of the NBA Development League (now G-League) at the NBA, and Vice Chairman & CEO of Soccerex.
“We’re proud to unveil Bluestone Equity Partners and our first growth equity fund, to capitalize, guide, and grow high-quality assets in the sports, media, and entertainment industry,” said Sharma. “Our fund was oversubscribed with interest, with a single closing consisting exclusively of institutional-grade capital. This not only reflects a high degree of investor confidence in Bluestone, but also a validation of our differentiated strategy to unlock value through both control and minority positions across sectors and asset types. The Bluestone team is driven by an exceptional combination of operational, management, and transactional expertise, along with a proven ability to effectuate proprietary deals on a truly global scale.”
While at IMG, Sharma led the growth of various businesses around the world, including professional basketball, soccer, and cricket properties in major emerging markets, and international media rights. In his time at the National Basketball Association, Sharma helped create and operate the NBA’s first minor league, overseeing league and team business and operational matters, including team acquisitions and financings. He also led the creation of the NBA’s first international league consulting business unit. A graduate of Duke University and Duke Law School, Sharma has been recognized as one of the “25 Most Influential South Asian Executives in the Media & Entertainment Industry” by Korn Ferry, one of the “Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business” by the Asian American Business Development Center, and a “Sports & Entertainment Industry Power Player” by The Sports Business Journal. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and USA Archery (USAA), along with other corporate and charitable boards.
Charters joins from Inner Circle Sports (ICS), a leading investment bank focused on sports, media & entertainment, where he established and ran its technology and services practice over the last decade. While at ICS, he led M&A transactions and capital raises for software, data, content, gaming, and marketing services companies. Charters also advised on institutional financings for professional teams across the top North American and European sports leagues. Prior to ICS, he was a private equity investor at Hamilton Lane, and started his career as a consultant in Ernst & Young’s business advisory group. A recipient of Sports Business Journal’s prestigious “Forty Under 40 Award”, Charters received an M.B.A. from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he was a walk-on with the Fighting Irish football team.
“Bluestone’s investment philosophy is to partner with exceptional management teams, boards, and investors who we believe can achieve extraordinary results. We have a clear strategy to invest in, grow, and scale businesses and properties with proven models that will benefit from the strength of our sports, media & entertainment industry expertise and relationships,” said Charters. “Bluestone’s strategic capital and ability to drive value will create a significant competitive advantage for our portfolio companies and partners.”
At launch, Sharma and Charters are joined by other prominent private equity professionals, including Walker Brumskine, who joins as a Principal from Apollo Global Management, and Jack Ross, who joins as an Associate from The Blackstone Group.
“Bluestone has the right team, in the right place, at the right time,” said Michael J. Dolan, the former IMG Chairman & CEO, Bacardi Ltd. CEO, and Young & Rubicam CEO, among other notable positions in an illustrious corporate career. “Bobby has put together an impressive management team that really understands a complex and constantly evolving industry. At IMG, Bobby was a respected and trusted colleague, and worked closely with both me and Ted Forstmann. In many ways, Bluestone carries forward that legacy of creating value in sports, media, and entertainment as an asset class. I look forward to following the firm’s progress.”
Foley & Lardner LLP served as legal advisor to Bluestone and Bluestone Capital I, L.P. No placement agent was used.
About Bluestone Equity Partners
Headquartered in New York City, Bluestone Equity Partners is a private equity firm harnessing a unique combination of blue-chip business and investing experience, coupled with deep industry ties, to forge highly strategic capital partnerships with established Sports, Media & Entertainment businesses and properties. Led by Founder & Managing Partner Bobby Sharma and Partner Kyle Charters, Bluestone partners with exceptional management teams and rights-holders seeking growth and scale on a global basis.
For more information, visit www.bluestoneequity.com.
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Aidan O’Connor, Prosek Partners