Former Disney Executives Turn Into L.A.’s Hottest Dealmakers

Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, who were both once in line to lead Walt Disney Co., are emerging as two of the busiest dealmakers in Los Angeles.

They filed papers Thursday to raise as much as $345 million for Forest Road Acquisition II, their second special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, which will be looking at businesses to buy. On Feb. 10, the original Forest Road Acquisition Corp. announced that it was merging with two fitness companies to create Beachbody Co., a wellness company with a market value of $2.9 billion.

Former Disney Executives Turn Into L.A.’s Hottest Dealmakers

Mayer, 58, and Staggs, 60, are also attempting to raise $2 billion from Blackstone Group Inc. to acquire other entertainment businesses, including music impresario Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings and TV producer Ben Silverman’s Propagate Content, according to people familiar with their thinking.

The pair, who will serve as co-chairman and co-chief executive officers of the new venture, plan to acquire businesses involved in music, film and TV production, managing artists and developing influencers in the worlds of sports and entertainment.

The Hollywood Reporter reported earlier this week on those plans.

Former Disney Executives Turn Into L.A.’s Hottest Dealmakers

Staggs, formerly the chief operating officer at Disney, left four years ago after being told he wasn’t likely get the top job. He had been serving on the boards of businesses making fitness and environmental products, while mulling some more high-profile entertainment jobs. He didn’t enter the public eye in a big way again until joining with Mayer in October to form the first Forest Road. Basketball star and commentator Shaquille O’Neal also joined the company as a strategic adviser.

Once obscure vehicles for taking companies public, SPACs soared to record levels last year, accounting for 46% of the $180 billion raised in initial public offerings on U.S. exchanges, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. This year, SPACs are dominating new listings, making up 63% of $76 billion in IPO volume, the data show.

Mayer led the launch of Disney’s phenomenally successful Disney+ streaming service, before being passed over for the CEO position last February. He briefly took on that role at social media giant TikTok -- the source of ire for then-President Donald Trump because of its ties to China -- before leaving the company in August.

“We’re doing some other stuff. We’re looking at some other things,” Mayer said during an interview on Bloomberg Television after the Beachbody deal this month. “There may be future announcements to make,” he said with a smile.

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