Professional sports teams are some of the most highly sought after assets in the world and have delivered above market returns uncorrelated to many market indices over time. After being regarded as a losing vanity play, professional sports have proven resistant to economic downturns and crises that have significantly slowed other industry sectors. There are a number of reasons that have contributed to the massive increase in the value of professional sports teams franchises. The increasing valuations of professional sports has made M&A execution of sports deals much more challenging in today's environment while also attracting significant attention from private equity and other institutional investors. The panelists can share their perspectives on the sports deal-making environment, the reasons for owning sports teams, and the changing dynamics in the sector.
Nathan Troutman developed his reputation as a leading investment executive over the course of his 25-year career during which he has built a top tier investment track record. He has also become known for his effectiveness in working with some of the world's leading business families.
From helping the Garza Sada family of Mexico after the peso's dramatic devaluation in 1994 to advising the family of Julian Robertson, founder and Chairman of Tiger Management, Nathan has demonstrated a unique hands-on approach to improving investment performance. Nathan has also used his skills in managing complex investment situations for the family of Geoffrey Kent, founder and Chairman of Abercrombie & Kent; the Boston based DeMoulas family, founders of Market Basket Supermarkets; Michael Dell’s family office in its participation with Derek Jeter acquiring the Miami Marlins baseball team; helping Mario Andretti and his family with their Formula One and Formula E strategies; Rockefeller Capital Management, and others.
His sports investment experience includes successfully restructuring and reorganizing Paul Allen's NFL team, the Seattle Seahawks and his NBA team, the Portland Trailblazers. Nathan also developed the trategic plan that led Paul Allen to invest in the Seattle Sounders. For Julian Robertson, he successfully reorganized Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliff golf courses in New Zealand. He served as Chairman and interim CEO of the Sporting News magazine.
Nathan holds an MBA from Kellogg Business School as part of a condensed JD/MBA program at Northwestern University. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Florida State University.
Brian Lessig is a Managing Director in the Strategic Advisory group focused on M&A and capital raising for Rockefeller Capital Management across a variety of industries including Sports Franchises. Mr. Lessig initiated an integrated effort to deliver its full suite of best-in-class investment banking capabilities to its Global Family Office clients.
Mr. Lessig was previously the founder and President of Grace Bay Ventures, LLC, an advisory, consulting, and investment firm focused primarily on the financial services, sports entertainment, healthcare, technology, and blockchain industries. Selected advisory work at Grace Bay Ventures included M&A advisor to Derek Jeter, and eventually the entire buyer group, for the $1.2 billion purchase of the Miami Marlins baseball club.
Previously, Mr. Lessig co-founded multiple businesses, and served in leadership roles, principally in the financial services and technology/medical device industries.
Prior to these entrepreneurial ventures, he was Managing Director in the Financial Institutions Investment Banking Group at Merrill Lynch, where he led strategic advisory assignments that included mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, as well as capital-raising transactions in both public and private markets, primarily in the asset management, specialty finance, insurance/wholesale brokerage, and infrastructure sectors. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch, he worked for Ernst & Young as an auditor; he also lectured to CPA candidates preparing to take the CPA examination.
He graduated summa cum laude with a B.B.A. in accounting from Hofstra University and received an M.B.A. with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Mr. Lessig is a founding member of the Kellogg Finance Network and a member of the Kellogg Alumni Council.