Oak View Group Completes Purchase of Uk-Based Rhubarb Hospitality Collection

June 19, 2023

Oak View Group (OVG), a global development, service, and investment company for the sports and live entertainment, and convention industries today announced the acquisition of Rhubarb Hospitality Collection (RHC), the world’s premier high-end hospitality provider in one of the most significant catering industry transactions in decades.

The purchase of the premium hospitality group from LGT Private Debt aims to elevate the experience for fans at venues around the world, ensuring every fan gets a premium experience. In addition to RHC’s own growth plan, the current management team, led by Chief Executive P.B. Jacobse, will help drive forward OVG’s plans to transform the food and beverage experience at arenas, stadiums, and live entertainment venues across the UK and around the world.

In the UK, Oak View Group, with the support of RHC, will operate Co-op Live, the UK’s largest arena which is currently being developed in Manchester by OVG in partnership with City Football Group. RHC will help deliver Co-op Live’s commitments to sustainability and local sourcing.

RHC has built a reputation for excellence over more than 25 years, with iconic venues across London, New York, and Berlin. RHC is forecasted to deliver nine-figure revenues in 2023 and its team of 2,000 caters for well over 5 million people every year at venues including Peak in New York, the tremendously popular 10,000 square-foot stunning restaurant, bar, and event space on the 101st floor of 30 Hudson Yards as well as the Royal Albert Hall, Ascot Racecourse, Sky Garden, 22 Bishopsgate, immersive live entertainment experiences Mamma Mia! The Party and Frameless, as well as venues in Berlin alongside the renowned Edge. The deal continues the significant growth OVG has experienced with recent acquisitions of Bovingdons Catering and the partnership with Christian Navarro, who transformed iconic retail shop Wally’s Wine & Spirits in Beverly Hills into a family-friendly ultra-high-end retail, bar, and restaurant concept.

OVG was founded in 2015 by music industry heavyweights Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff as a positive disruption to business as usual in the sports, live entertainment, and hospitality industries. The company has grown rapidly, building the world’s most sustainable arenas, putting venues at the heart of communities, and ensuring the fan experience is second to none. OVG has billions in capital deployed across 9 projects globally, 5 of which are now open and operational. Co-op Live in Manchester will be the 6th when it opens, followed by Sao Paolo, Las Vegas, and Cardiff.

Tim Leiweke, chairman and CEO, Oak View Group, said: “This acquisition, along with other companies we acquired over the last two years, gives us a platform that we think rivals or is better than any other food and beverage company out there. We feel strongly about this because we are facility owners and operators, and we see food and beverage differently than people who are simply just third-party vendors. If you look at the arenas we own and operate and you look at our upcoming ventures, like Co-op Live, by adding RHC we think we are now best-in-class on premium experience and hospitality and that is in large part because of our knowledge and experiences as arena owners and operators, not just food and beverage vendors. We’ve always believed that fans deserve the very best, from their experience getting to and from an arena to the best possible presentation of the show they’ve chosen to see, to the food and drink they buy. It has been clear from our first meeting that the RHC team shares both our vision to elevate the fan experience, as well as our focus on quality, sustainability, and the importance of a great company culture. RHC and OVG are the perfect partners to design and deliver the world’s best hospitality at venues around the world.”

Pieter-Bas Jacobse, Chief Executive of Rhubarb Hospitality Group, said: “This is an incredibly meaningful partnership for RHC, and we are thrilled to partner with OVG. We have known the team for many years, they understand our business model, and we all see best-in-class hospitality as essential to the value proposition between venues and their fans. Together, we are determined to redefine what it means to deliver a truly exceptional and unforgettable experience in our industry.”

Chris Granger, president of OVG360, and Ken Gaber, president of OVG Hospitality jointly commented: “Adding RHC to the OVG Hospitality family and portfolio creates a service offering that is wholly unique within our industry and we look forward to expanding their client roster across existing third-party clients, existing OVG owned operated and facilities, and new clients that join the OVG family in the future.”

The transaction represents a continuing expansion by OVG into premium hospitality across all types of venues and live events spaces around the world, with Oak View Group’s new food and beverage arm, OVG Hospitality, now the fastest-growing concessions and premium hospitality platform in the live entertainment and convention industry.

RHC’s category-leading expertise in premium hospitality will allow OVG to offer to its venues and third-party clients curated service across the entire food and beverage value chain. The acquisition continues OVG’s ascension as the leading full-service live events company in the world. Following the launch of OVG Hospitality in 2021, OVG completed the acquisitions of Spectra in November 2021, Spectrum Concessions in North America in August 2022, and UK-based Bovingdons in October 2022. OVG further recently partnered with influential wine industry leader Christian Navarro, to curate a luxurious, ultra-premium culinary experience for guests within its world-class sports and entertainment venues as well as key strategic markets. These three acquisitions and highly accretive strategic partnerships further position OVG Hospitality as industry leaders in premium service, sustainability, and high-volume concession operations across an unmatched array of venues ranging from arenas and stadiums to cultural institutions and music festivals.

The RHC events division continues to focus on bespoke solutions for a broad range of clients, from high-profile charity galas for 2,000 guests to small, intimate dinners in-country venues. They are the preferred food partner for more than 70 premium venues and visitor attractions across London including the Historic Royal Palaces, the Natural History Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, and Old Billingsgate.

The execution of the transaction for OVG was led by Keegan McDonald, vice president of business development, Michael Moschella, vice president of business development, and Joe Donohue, senior associate of business development. The management team for RHC was led by chief executive officer P.B. Jacobse and chief financial officer Laraine Beament. Goldman Sachs & Co. acted as financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP acted as legal advisor to OVG. Houlihan Lokey acted as financial advisor and Eversheds Sutherland acted as legal advisor to Rhubarb.

Jonathan Smith, Managing Director, LGT Private Debt said. “It’s been a pleasure to support the RHC management team since 2016 and we are delighted to see them transition to being part of OVG. We wish OVG and management the best in the next phase of RHC’s development.”

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