Populous Announces Minority Investment from Providence Equity Partners

October 17, 2023

Populous Holdings, Inc. (“Populous”) today announced a strategic minority investment from Providence Equity Partners (“Providence”), a premier private equity firm specializing in growth-oriented investments in media, communications, education and technology companies. The investment is subject to customary regulatory approvals and financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Populous and Providence anticipate the investment will support Populous’ continued growth and allow the company to pursue opportunities to expand its service offerings and geographic presence for the benefit of clients, partners and its workforce around the globe. Populous will continue to be led by one of its Founders and Global Chair, Earl Santee, and its existing leadership.

Populous specializes in designing sports facilities, arenas, convention centers, and airports, as well as the planning and design of large-scale events. Starting as HOK Sports Facilities Group in 1983, the company changed its name to Populous in 2009. With an expansive portfolio of more than 3,000 projects, including Yankee Stadium in New York, Wembley Stadium in London, Stadium Australia and every Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games since 1996, Populous is a best-in-class designer for the next generation of events and venues.

Earl Santee, Populous Global Chair, comments:

“We have experienced ongoing success in our core business, as well as growth through geographic expansion and extension of the services that we offer our clients. As our industry continues to evolve, we believe this partnership will enable greater integration and expansion of our global business. Providence has a strong track record of supporting the success of businesses that deliver world-class events and experiences, and we believe their expertise will further accelerate our momentum and enable us to capitalize on additional growth opportunities while retaining the core values and culture that are integral to Populous.

Scott Marimow, a Managing Director at Providence, said:

“Over the last 40 years, Populous has established an exceptional reputation for designing vibrant entertainment destinations that create unforgettable experiences for fans, spectators and communities worldwide. We have been impressed by the differentiated business and culture that Earl and his team have built, as well as its world-class portfolio of projects for some of the most iconic names in sports and entertainment. We believe Populous is well positioned for continued, sustainable growth and will benefit from consumer demand for live entertainment and increased infrastructure investment by venue owners seeking to create new and innovative environments and experiences.”

Michael Dominguez, Chief Investment Officer and Senior Managing Director at Providence, added:

“Our investment in Populous, in our view, fits squarely with Providence’s focus on sports, entertainment and live events businesses, and we are excited to leverage our industry expertise to support the company through its next phase of growth.”

Populous has established itself as a renowned, global architectural and design firm and continues to strive for excellence. With Populous’ expertise and Providence’s strategic insight, the company will seek to broaden its reach and capture both organic and inorganic growth opportunities globally.

Fortitude Advisors served as lead investment banker to Populous, with Arma Partners serving as co-advisor. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP served as legal advisor, and PwC provided human resource and tax advisory services for Populous. Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as Providence’s legal advisor.


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