‘Game of Thrones’ Effects Company Gets Private-Equity Backing

(Bloomberg) -- Pixomondo, the visual-effects company credited with the award-winning dragons in HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” is selling a majority stake to U.K. private equity firm Mayfair Equity Partners.

The deal is modest, valuing the Los Angeles-based business at $65 million, but it underscores the growing clout of effects companies in Hollywood. Pixomondo also worked on “Wonder Woman” and another HBO hit, “Westworld.” The investment will help fund research and development, as well as global expansion, according to a statement Tuesday.

Visual effects, or VFX, have long been the cornerstone of big-budget action movies, but TV shows are increasingly using them as well. The rise of streaming platforms also has fueled demand, said Daniel Sasaki, managing partner at Mayfair.

“The VFX market has experienced strong growth in recent years and this is set to continue,” he said in a statement. Amazon.com Inc., Netflix Inc. and Apple Inc. are all increasing their budgets for original content, he said.

“We see this as the beginning of a flurry of activity in the sector,” Sasaki said.

Pixomondo doubled in size from 2014 to 2017, but it still only has a small share of the market. The industry is worth an estimated $5.4 billion and could grow 13 percent per year, the companies said, citing FTI Consulting. Thilo Kuther, Pixomondo’s founder, will remain chief executive officer.

The VFX industry used to be more volatile because it was dependent on blockbuster movies, Sasaki said. That has changed as more of the entertainment industry embraces effects.

“They have a more stable business model, as revenue is coming from subscriptions that can be mapped over the long term,” he added.

Last year, Business Growth Fund invested in Milk, the visual-effects company known for its work on the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” movie. Framestore, the British VFX company that worked on the “Harry Potter” film franchise, agreed to a $187 million takeover by Chinese conglomerate Cultural Investment Holdings Co. in 2016.

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