Actor, comedian and entertainment mogul Kevin Hart has launched a new Hollywood production company called Hartbeat with the help of a $100 million investment from private equity firm Abry Partners.
Abry invests in media, communication, and information ventures. With Hart’s latest business move investment, Abry now holds a minority stake of 15 percent stake in Hartbeat, people with knowledge of the deal said. The company is valued at more than $650 million, The New York Times reported.
Abry Partners takes controlling stakes in the companies it invests in through leveraged buyouts, recapitalization, private equity investments and more, according to a Dunn and Bradstreet overview. The company was founded in 1989 by Andrew Banks and Royce Yudkoff.
Here are three things to know.
NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock will remain a minority shareholder. Peacock has a deal giving it the first chance to buy TV shows that Hartbeat produces.
Hartbeat executives will also own shares.
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Hartbeat came about as the result of a merger of two of Hart’s entertainment businesses, Laugh Out Loud Network and HartBeat Productions. Hartbeat — the new company — will focus on comedy and cultural content. Laugh Out Loud was a digital comedy firm conceived in 2016 as a subscription streaming service by Hart and the Lionsgate film studio. Hartbeat Productions was Hart’s production company.
Hartbeat will produce and distribute TV and film content focused on “comedic storytelling,” and is in various stages of development or production on more than 60 projects.
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Hart is the latest entertainment entrepreneur to tap the private equity money pouring into Hollywood, The New York Times reported. Among the celebrities who have made deals are LeBron James, Will Smith and Reese Witherspoon. They all have sold stakes in their media businesses to firms looking to take advantage of the increased demand for content.
Hart told the Times that he predicts the demand for streaming content will only continue to increase.
“There won’t ever be a time when people won’t want to laugh, won’t need to drop their shoulders and just have a good time,” said Hart, who is known for his acting roles in films such as “Ride Along” and “Central Intelligence.”
Photo: Kevin Hart shows his hands after placing them in cement at a ceremony in his honor at the TCL Chinese Theatre, Los Angeles, Dec. 10, 2019. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)