Billionaire Burkle Picks Ex-MSG CEO to Run New Sports Agency

  • Independent Sports and Entertainment run by Hank Ratner
  • Andrew Sasson invests in company and takes a board seat

Billionaire Ron Burkle is starting an athlete management and sports-related investment company that’ll be led by former Madison Square Garden Co. Chief Executive Officer Hank Ratner.

The company, Independent Sports and Entertainment, essentially replaces Relativity Sports, in which Burkle was an investor. The new firm has retained several top agents and their clients from the L.A.-based sports agency, which is closing.

ISE begins with more than 300 Major League Baseball, National Football League and National Basketball Association players under management, including baseball’s two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera, basketball’s DeMarcus Cousins and football’s Larry Fitzgerald.

In addition to negotiating contracts for athletes, ISE will expand into media and entertainment and make investments in sports and entertainment technology, Ratner said.

“When you have relationships with team owners, teams and venues, there are obvious expansions into content and hospitality and sponsorship and marketing partnerships,” said Ratner, who stepped down as MSG’s CEO in 2014 after overseeing the $1 billion renovation of the company’s namesake arena in New York City. “When you add to that Ron Burkle’s and Yucaipa’s involvement and the assets that are in Ron’s control, you can accomplish a lot.”

Burkle, who also co-owns the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, made an undisclosed investment in the new company, which he will chair. The board will also include Ratner and Light Group founder Andrew Sasson.

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