Reese Witherspoon sells stake in company to Disney Vets, Blackstone

(Bloomberg) — Reese Witherspoon has sold a majority stake in her production company to a new company led by former top executives of Walt Disney Co. and is backed by the private equity firm Blackstone Group Inc., a deal that will hit the hot market for movies and TV shows.

The purchase, led by former Disney executives Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, will value Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine at about $900 million, according to a person with knowledge of the matter who asked not to be identified.

Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine’s senior management team, led by Chief Executive Officer Sarah Harden, will continue to oversee day-to-day operations and hold “significant” equity in the company, according to a statement Monday. Witherspoon and Harden will also join the board of the new media company.

“This deal enables Hello Sunshine to accelerate its already strong growth while remaining independent,” the parties said.

Blackstone has built a media and entertainment portfolio through his private equity firm, which previously acquired a majority stake in the dating platform Bumble.

It is also buying property used for film and TV production and announced a deal Monday to spend $974 million building a movie studio north of London with Los Angeles-based studio operator Hudson Pacific.

The Hello Sunshine agreement marks the first investment for Mayer and Staggs’ new Blackstone-backed media company.

The rapid growth of streaming has sparked a wave of movie and TV deals as major companies look to bolster their libraries and position others to deliver programming to top players. Amazon.com Inc. agreed in May to buy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for $8.45 billion, providing content and production capabilities for its online video business.

Hello Sunshine is owned by Witherspoon and her partners, Seth Rodsky and Jim Toth. Toth is a former talent agent at Creative Artists Agency and is the husband of Witherspoon. Blackstone is spending about $500 million to acquire shares from existing investors, according to the Wall Street Journal, which reported on the deal earlier Monday.

Hello Sunshine has produced shows such as the HBO drama ‘Big Little Lies’ and the Apple TV+ series ‘The Morning Show’. It is also home to the Witherspoon book club.

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