Growthgate Acquires Part of Leading Digital Content and Animation Firm “RUBICON”
Growthgate Capital Corporation, the GCC based specialist buyout firm, announced that it has reached a final agreement to acquire 30% of Rubicon, MENA’s leading digital content production & animation company. Rubicon is a pioneer in k-12 education content, currently used in many countries across the region such as Jordan, Oman, Algeria and Morocco. The company has the largest 2D and 3Danimation studio in the Middle East, and is executing location-based entertainment projects in two destinations of above a billion dollars development budgets. Rubicon is also involved in the licensing and merchandizing business of its own IP in addition to the IP of major studios and independent parties in the U.S. In October 2008, MGM studios and Rubicon announced that they are producing new episodes of MGM’s Pink Panther series to air on Cartoon Network channels worldwide. The 78 episodes are scheduled to be completed end of 2009 while talks about production of subsequent seasons of the Pink Panther & Pals are currently underway. Rubicon is the creator of “Ben & Izzy” a successful children TV series that aired in Ramadan 2008 on MBC. The series is based on the adventures of two youngsters: one American and one Arab who travel back through ancient times and meet a glorious band of scientists, travelers and poets, taking viewers on a fantastic new journey in each episode. “Ben & Izzy” is a contestant at the International Emmy’s under the Children Category Award at the 2009 Cannes Festival. Rubicon has recently also started the production of a 3D CG theatrical movie about the “Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” for worldwide release in December 2011. Rubicon operates out of Amman, Dubai, L.A., and Manila. The company forecast revenues for 2010 are in excess of $100 million, and it plans to invest circa US$M75 over the next three years in various productions. Both Growthgate and Rubicon being privately held, the value of the transaction was not disclosed.
Ms. Randa Ayoubi, founder and CEO of Rubicon stated: “We are very excited to partner with Growthgate whom we found to be an investor with vision and foresight, not just a financial investor. Growthgate with its forward-thinking mandate, professional management and results-driven ethos, seems to be a nurturing ground for regional champions, something that is still largely lacking in the Middle East”. Ms. Ayoubi added: “The animation landscape in the Middle East, as well as, edutainment has not taken centre-stage in the boom times of 2005-2007. Other sectors overshadowed the opportunities that lay ahead in this growing segment which addresses hundreds of thousands of students and millions of young viewers”. The industry remains fairly untapped and the estimated pent up demand for animation in the region remains significant. In recent years (2007) Dubai launched the Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematics (MAAC) to provide students training through different courses; and Jordan has established the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts, chaired by Ms. Ayoubi, in partnership with the University of Southern California – School of Cinematic Arts. Further commenting on this transaction, Ayoubi said “The creative value chain of Rubicon is quite unique in the emerging markets where few animation firms combine creative content with high-quality production capacity, proprietary IP developments and; co-partnership projects with major US animation studios”.
Growthgate -managed by Keystone – follows a ‘buy and build’ investment strategy that is set on partnering with the management of growth-orientated businesses and, together, steering their courses into becoming enduring, large-scale organizations. This deal marks the fifth direct equity investment by Growthgate since its capitalization in mid 2007, and the first in the ‘Edutainment & Animation’ sector. Growthgate’s portfolio companies already comprise: Able Logistics Group (logistics & transport), Gama Aviation Holding (managed-private jets and aviation services), Roots Group (construction-related materials); and Averda International (environmental & waste management services).