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Roc Nation, Fanatics among investors in acquisition of Lakewood Ranch company

The acquisition bumps the company's value to $500 million.

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  • | 11:52 a.m. July 1, 2021
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Mark Salzberg founded Certified Collectibles Group  in 1987.
Mark Salzberg founded Certified Collectibles Group in 1987.
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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LAKEWOOD RANCH — Giant global investment firm Blackstone, with $650 billion in assets, has acquired a majority stake in the Certified Collectibles Group — in a transaction that valued the company at more than $500 million. A host of other prominent investors and celebrities are also part of the investment. 

Mark Salzberg, CCG’s founder, and Steven Eichenbaum, CCG’s CEO, will retain a significant minority stake in the business after the sale, according to a statement. They will also retain their leadership positions. Blackstone’s funding is managed by its Tactical Opportunities business.

Additional investors in the transaction include:

  • Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded by Jay-Z.
  • Michael Rubin, founder and executive chairman of Fanatics. 
  • SC.Holdings, a growth equity platform. 
  • Mastry, founded by Rudy Cline-Thomas. 
  • NBA All-Star Andre Iguodala. 
  • Daryl Morey, president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. 
  • Main Street Advisors, a leading investment advisory firm to prominent athletes, recording artists, and other leaders across entertainment and business. 

Founded in 1987 in New Jersey, Certified Collectibles Group is an industry leader that grades millions of coins, paper money and comic books — with services that have unlocked billions of dollars in secondary market value. It has offices on three continents and digital offerings. The firm relocated to Sarasota in 2001, first with a headquarters near U.S. 301. It relocated to Lakewood Ranch in 2006, when it had grown so much it needed its own custom space. It's been based there since then, with a fortress-like secure facility. CCG has been hiring rapidly, and as of early March it had more than 400 employees globally, with 330 in Lakewood Ranch.

Blackstone, according to a statement, will seek to accelerate CCG’s growth, enabling the company to invest significantly in its current and planned services, adding and training new employees, expanding its geographic and product reach, acquiring new technologies and developing its digital presence. 

Courtesy. Blackstone, a global $650 billion investment firm, acquired a majority stake in the Certified Collectibles Group in a transaction valuing the company at more than $500 million.
Courtesy. Blackstone, a global $650 billion investment firm, acquired a majority stake in the Certified Collectibles Group in a transaction valuing the company at more than $500 million.

“As thematic investors, we look for exceptional entrepreneurial teams succeeding in growing markets, and CCG is a great example,” says C. C. Melvin Ike, principal at Blackstone, in the release. “We have been closely following the rise of the global physical and digital collectibles industry for several years and we were drawn to CCG because of their leadership role in the categories that they serve, and Blackstone’s ability to grow the platform through both organic and inorganic initiatives. We look forward to working together to help the company continue and even accelerate its impressive growth trajectory.”

Over the last 35 years, CCG has expanded from collectible coins to comic books, banknotes, magazines, concert posters, stamps, trading cards, sports cards and estate items. CCG has certified more than 62 million of these collectibles, with a combined fair market value approaching $50 billion.

“When I established CCG, I had a vision that we would transform collectibles into an asset class that is trusted by collectors, dealers and investors around the world,” says Mark Salzberg, founder of CCG in the statement. “It has been incredible to be a part of this journey as we achieved and then exceeded these goals. I am excited to join with Blackstone as we enter the next phase of growth for CCG and the collectibles market.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Blackstone during this key point in the industry as the collectibles market continues to accelerate and attract new collectors and investors,” says Steven Eichenbaum, CEO at CCG. “From the moment we met the Blackstone team, we could tell that we shared the same vision for the future of our company and the global collectibles industry.”

Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to CCG. Duane Morris acted as legal advisor to CCG. Weil, Gotshal & Manges acted as lead legal advisor to Blackstone. Golub Capital led the financing for the transaction.




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