James’s Blaze Pizza is a hot investment
U.S. basketball star LeBron James, who invested in Blaze Pizza five years ago, is getting some deeppocketed company.
The fast-casual pizza chain just sold a “significant noncontrolling” stake to Brentwood Associates, a private equity firm with $2.4 billion US under management. The deal was expected to give Blaze Pizza an enterprise value of more than $100 million, said a person familiar with the negotiations.
The deal signals that the basketball star made a smart bet when he backed Blaze, a business that faces a crowded field. The company is the fastest restaurant chain in history to reach 200 locations, according to industry research firm Technomic Inc. At the same time, some of its competitors have been shuttering restaurants and retrenching.
“The Blaze team has done an amazing job growing to 200 restaurants in under five years,” Rahul Aggarwal, a partner at Los Angeles-based Brentwood, said in a statement. James, the 32-year-old Cleveland Cavaliers forward, took a stake in 2012 and owns about 10 per cent of the company — along with an interest in a franchise group that holds rights to Blaze restaurants in Chicago and South Florida.