ACF sell The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit to Embracer Group
ACF advises The Saul Zaentz Company on the sale of Middle-earth Enterprises, holder of multiple rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit literary works, to the Embracer Group.
ACF has advised The Saul Zaentz Company on the sale of Middle-earth Enterprises and its intellectual property rights to the largest, most enduring, and most iconic fantasy property in the world.
This deal includes the rights to motion pictures, video & board games, merchandising, theme parks, stage productions, and iconic literary works by J.R.R. Tolkien including, The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings trilogy, which comprises The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.
The deal also includes matching rights for the Middle-earth related literary works authorized by the Tolkien Estate or Harper Collins including The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth.
The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are among the world’s most popular entertainment franchises and are widely credited with popularizing the fantasy genre.
The Saul Zaentz Company
The Saul Zaentz Company was founded in 1976 and was originally set-up as a film production company, which produced award-winning films such as Amadeus and The English Patient. The company first acquired the rights to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit in 1976 in an arrangement with United Artists to produce an animated version of The Lord of the Rings to be directed by Ralph Bakshi. The film was released in 1978 and has become a cult classic. In 1998, the company licensed New Line Cinema to enable director Peter Jackson’s live-action trilogies of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The movies have grossed over $6 billion at the box office and won many Academy Awards.
Embracer Group is a global group of entrepreneurial businesses in the gaming and entertainment industry. Through its decentralized operating model, they provide entrepreneurs and teams the resources needed to succeed and unleash their full potential. With its headquarter in Karlstad, Sweden, Embracer Group consists of 11 Operative Groups, and engages more than 12,750 people in over 40 countries, with a proven track record of combining organic and acquired growth.
Freemode is a newly formed operating Group within Embracer and is a global strategic support ecosystem for innovative, independently operated businesses pursuing broader opportunities within gaming & entertainment. Embracer’s operative group Asmodee is already one of the most successful licensees of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit through board and card games. Publishing over a dozen games with over 100 expansions since the release of the Lord of the Rings Game over 20 years ago, including classics such as The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game andThe Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle-earth, a fully cooperative, app-supported board game set in J.R.R Tolkien’s iconic land of Middle-earth.
Embracer will continue to operate the company as Middle-earth Enterprises, which will be a part of the newly founded operative group, Freemode Group, where the company will continue to manage the licensing business and operate independently under the existing leadership and in collaboration with other Embracer operative groups to foster future growth and synergies.
This acquisition is in line with Embracer’s IP driven transmedia strategy.
“Given the complexities and importance of the rights at stake in our transaction, we interviewed several investment bank candidates at length before retaining ACF to guide our process. We could not have chosen better! ACF personnel were dedicated, creative, practical, responsive and deeply knowledgeable about the intricacies of the sales process. Over the months involved, Thomas, Richard, Tatiana and the rest of the ACF staff met with and worked skillfully and credibly with scores of potential buyers and with our own employees leading ultimately to a high value and very fair outcome benefitting both our company and the buyer. They have our deep respect and gratitude for a job so well accomplished”
Marty Glick COO, The Saul Zaentz Company
“I am truly excited to have one of the world’s most epic fantasy franchises join the Embracer family, opening up more transmedia opportunities including synergies across our global Group. I am thrilled to see what lies in the future for this IP with Freemode and Asmodee as a start within the Group”
Lars Wingefors, Founder and Group CEO, Embracer Group
“Working with Marty Glick, COO, The Saul Zaentz Company, Tom Magnani and Ed Deibert from Arnold & Porter has been an honor and a privilege. When I was 17 years old, I chose The Lord of the Rings as my novel for my English literature major. Never in a 100 years did I expect/hope/think that I would be appointed to represent this incredible global intellectual property in finding a new home. It has been an honor to work on this deal and deliver a fantastic result to all involved. We often use the words “iconic, global, market leading” never before has this been more apt.”
Thomas Dey, Founder and CEO, ACF Investment Bank