SBJ/20090629/This Week's News

Admiral gets piece of Centerplate

Admiral Capital Group, a private equity firm formed by former NBA star David Robinson and former Goldman Sachs banker Dan Bassichis, has acquired a financial stake in sports concessionaire Centerplate.

Bassichis and Des Hague, Centerplate’s president and CEO, would not disclose the investment, but it is a large enough sum that Robinson has a seat on the company’s board of directors.

It is Admiral Capital Group’s first deal since Robinson and Bassichis announced their partnership in June 2007, and it comes five months after Kohlberg & Co., Centerplate’s parent firm, closed on buying the food and retail provider for about $200 million. 

Former NBA star David Robinson co-founded
Admiral Capital Group two years ago.

Centerplate, which had been publicly held since December 2003, struggled to maintain its footing after losing the New York Yankees’ concessions business, the company’s largest account. The Yankees and Dallas Cowboys formed their own food and merchandise firm for their new facilities.

Kohlberg specializes in buying troubled firms, rebuilding them and selling them later at a profit, and officials have been talking to Admiral about buying a share of Centerplate since early March, soon after Hague took over as CEO.

Robinson was on a family vacation and unavailable for comment, but Bassichis said they had targeted the concessions industry since forming Admiral Capital Group two years ago.

“We were well aware of what happened to [Centerplate] over the past couple of years,” Bassichis said. “That’s why Kohlberg stepped in at an opportune time, to recapitalize the company and position it well for growth. We are just coming alongside them to add more value.”

Hague acknowledged Centerplate will make smart use of Robinson’s star power to pursue new business and leverage his reputation as one of sports’ most active philanthropists to assist nonprofits in the markets where the company operates.

Officials would not say whether Robinson would make sales calls, but moving forward he will be principally involved in company decisions, Bassichis said.

“It’s an evolution of a relationship between an athlete and a corporate partner,” he said.

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