Blackstone, a U.S. private equity firm managing nearly $650 billion US in assets, has acquired a majority stake in Certified Collectibles Group (CCG), the Florida-based parent company of Numismatic Guaranty Corp. (NGC), Paper Money Guaranty and other third-party grading services.
Founded in 1987, CCG began with a focus on coins but expanded over the last 35 years to banknotes, stamps, comic books, magazines, concert posters, trading cards, sports cards and estate items. In that time, CCG has certified more than 62 million collectibles with a combined market value of nearly $50 billion US.
“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. It has been incredible to be a part of this journey as we achieved and then exceeded these goals,” said Mark Salzberg, CCG founder, who – along with CEO Steven Eichenbaum – will retain a significant minority stake. “I am excited to join with Blackstone as we enter the next phase of growth for CCG and the collectibles market.”
On July 1, Blackstone announced funds managed by its “Tactical Opportunities” business were used to acquire the majority stake in a transaction valuing the company at more than $500 million US.
While Blackstone declined to release the deal’s exact terms, based on that valuation, the firm’s investment “is likely well north of $100 million (US),” according to a Tampa Bay Times report.
According to the Times report, the Blackstone-led investors who bought a share of the company include:
- 37-year-old National Basketball Association (NBA) star Andre Iguodala, who currently plays for the Miami Heat;
- another big name in the NBA, executive Daryl Morey, who’s the president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers;
- the Roc Nation entertainment company owned by U.S. rapper Jay-Z; and
- Main Street Advisors, a celebrity investment firm whose clients have included Canadian rapper Drake, U.S. rapper Dr. Dre, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and singer Billie Eilish.
“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,” added Steven R. 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.”
Blackstone’s goal is to continue CCG’s growth to allow 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,” according to a July 1 statement.
“As thematic investors, we look for exceptional entrepreneurial teams succeeding in growing markets, and CCG is a great example,” said C. C. Melvin Ike, Blackstone principal. “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.”