Horse Racing’s Big Hitters Join Forces For Major Expansion
The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Florida is acquired through a partnership between two of the biggest names in equestrian sport.
Entities headed by Andreas Helgstrand and Ludger Beerbaum, and Mark Bellissimo join forces to “invest in the globalization of equestrian sport”.
Helgstrand is the CEO of Global Equestrian Group (GEG), which is co-owned by Beerbaum. GEG will acquire Wellington-based Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and “invest in equestrian lifestyle initiatives” from Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), led by CEO Mark Bellissimo.
WEP’s biggest partners, Bellissimo, Roger Smith, Lisa Lourie, Marsha Dammerman and Michael Stone, will co-invest in GEG. Bellissimo said the collaboration meant “opportunities abound to take the sport to a new level”.
The move received the approval of the CEO of the American Equestrian Federation, Bill Moroney, who said, “As always, we are delighted to see continued investments in American equestrian sport. This strong commitment to world-class facilities, the welfare of horses and riders, and USEF and FEI competitions further validates the market demand, at all levels, for organized sport.
PBIEC operates 16 competition arenas, 2,500 stands and offers participants and spectators a variety of restaurants, shops, reception areas and other facilities. The GEG initiative will initiate major investments in all areas of the facility, ensuring that PBIEC will continue to be the leading equestrian sport venue in the world with increased exposure in Europe, Asia and South America. The purchase includes an 11-acre extension of the fairgrounds. To ensure continuity, the WEP partners demanded a 50-year deed restriction on the venue that guarantees USEF and FEI sanctioned shows on the property.
Helgstrand described the Winter Equestrian Festival and the PBIEC as “fantastic brands in international equestrian sport”.
“Together, we will strengthen the offering and create a global market leader, spreading our passion for equestrian sports and the lifestyle to new markets. “
Bellissimo and PBIEC have transformed Wellington into the world’s premier destination for horse riding enthusiasts, with competitions and events spanning over 40 weeks each year. It is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival, which lasts 13 weeks and is the largest and oldest equestrian sporting event in the world. Some 4,000 families, 8,000 horses and 250,000 spectators from 43 countries converge on Wellington to compete for more than $ 12 million in cash prizes.
A recent independent economic study highlighted the annual economic impact of the Winter Equestrian Festival on Palm Beach County of $ 279 million in total spending and 150,000 overnight stays. GEG is part of Waterland Private Equity, which manages a global investment portfolio of more than $ 11 billion.
Bellissimo is preparing to announce a global strategy and a series of investments to elevate Wellington as the world’s premier equestrian lifestyle destination.
GEG is also active in other equestrian investments including Helgstrand Dressage, Ludger Beerbaum Stables, Helgstrand Jewelery and the equestrian clothing and accessories company Kingsland Equestrian. At present, the total turnover of these handsets is $ 180 million.
The acquisition means that GEG will now have event venues in the United States, Germany and Denmark. Beerbaum said the goal was “to improve equestrian sport by providing top quality venues and top sport so that riders around the world can live out their passions and dreams.”
He said the acquisition of PBIEC and the current expansion of Riesenbeck International in Germany have given the partnership “two leading professional and attractive exhibition grounds”.
GEG and WEP are evaluating other investment opportunities in Wellington, including a new state-of-the-art exhibition center for the Global Dressage Festival.