Bluestone Equity Partners Launches with $300 Million Growth Equity Fund Investing in Sports, Media & Entertainment

Management team’s blue-chip industry experience, global network, and track record secures major institutional backing with its differentiated investment strategy

NEW YORK, February 8, 2023 – Bluestone Equity Partners (Bluestone), a private equity firm, today announced the successful closing of Bluestone Capital I, L.P., its inaugural $300 million growth equity fund focused on the global sports, media & entertainment industry. Led by Founder & Managing Partner Bobby Sharma, Bluestone will target established businesses that will benefit from the management team’s combination of blue-chip business and investment experience, and global network.

Sharma launches Bluestone as the next chapter in a career spanning finance, strategy, management, operations, and law. His previous roles include Global Head of Basketball & Strategic Initiatives at IMG, General Counsel of the NBA Development League (now G-League) at the NBA, and Vice Chairman & CEO of Soccerex.

“We’re proud to unveil Bluestone Equity Partners and our first growth equity fund, to capitalize, guide, and grow high-quality assets in the sports, media, and entertainment industry,” said Sharma. “Our fund had a single closing, consisting entirely of institutional-grade capital, reflecting investor confidence in Bluestone, and a validation of our strategy to unlock value through both control and minority positions, across sectors and asset types. The Bluestone team is driven by a combination of operational, management, and transactional talent and expertise, along with the ability to effectuate proprietary deals on a truly global scale.”

While at IMG, Sharma led the growth of various businesses around the world, including professional basketball, soccer, and cricket properties in major emerging markets, as well as the management of international media rights. In his time at the National Basketball Association, Sharma helped create and operate the NBA’s first minor league, overseeing league and team business and operational matters, including team acquisitions and financings. He also led the creation of the NBA’s first international league consulting business unit. A graduate of Duke University and Duke Law School, Sharma has been recognized as one of the “25 Most Influential South Asian Executives in the Media & Entertainment Industry” by Korn Ferry(1) and one of the “Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business”(2) by the Asian American Business Development Center. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of both the United States Tennis Association (USTA), and USA Archery (USAA), along with other corporate and charitable boards.

“Bluestone’s investment philosophy is to partner with exceptional management teams, boards, and investors who we believe can achieve extraordinary results. We have a clear strategy to invest in, grow, and scale businesses and properties with proven models that will benefit from the strength of our sports, media & entertainment industry expertise and relationships,” said Sharma. “We believe Bluestone’s strategic capital and ability to drive value can create a significant competitive advantage for our portfolio companies and partners.”

At launch, Sharma is joined by other prominent private equity professionals, including Walker Brumskine, who joins from Apollo Global Management, and Jackson Ross, who joins from The Blackstone Group.

“Bluestone has the right team, in the right place, at the right time,” said Michael J. Dolan, the former IMG Chairman & CEO, Bacardi Ltd. CEO, and Young & Rubicam CEO, among other notable positions in an illustrious corporate career. “Bobby has put together an impressive management team that really understands a complex and constantly evolving industry. At IMG, Bobby was a respected and trusted colleague, and worked closely with both me and Ted Forstmann. In many ways, Bluestone carries forward that legacy of creating value in sports, media, and entertainment as an asset class. I look forward to following the firm’s progress.”(3)

Foley & Lardner LLP served as legal advisor to Bluestone and Bluestone Capital I, L.P. No placement agent was used.

About Bluestone Equity Partners

Headquartered in New York City, Bluestone Equity Partners is a private equity firm harnessing a unique combination of blue-chip business and investing experience, coupled with deep industry ties, to forge highly-strategic capital partnerships with established Sports, Media & Entertainment businesses and properties. Led by Founder & Managing Partner Bobby Sharma, Bluestone strives to partner with exceptional management teams and rights holders seeking growth and scale on a global basis.

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(1) The 25 Most Influential South Asian Executives in the Media & Entertainment Industry recognition was provided in January 2009 by Korn Ferry, a non-affiliated third party, while Mr. Sharma was employed at NBA. This recognition is not connected to, nor indicative of, investment advisory services provided.

(2) The Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business recognition was provided in June 2014 by the Asian American Business Development Center (“AABDC”), a non-affiliated third party, while Mr. Sharma was Senior V.P. at IMG. This recognition is not connected to, nor indicative of, investment advisory services provided. Further information about this recognition can be found at the AABDC’s website under Outstanding 50 Award.

(3) This is a non-compensated endorsement provided by an individual who was neither a client nor an investor. No compensation, directly or indirectly, was provided in exchange for this endorsement. There are no material conflicts of interest between this individual and Bluestone Equity Partners presently or in response to this endorsement.  

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