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Second city acquired by private equity firm, ZMC

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Chicago-based popular comedy group The Second City, often known as Second City, was acquired by private equity firm Strauss Zelnicks, ZMC. With the advice of Houlihan Lokey
MM
, the sale of the iconic comedy brand is closed.

ZMC announced the purchase but did not disclose the terms of the transaction, however prior to the comedy group’s purchase, The Financial Times reported that the deal could reach $ 50 million.

The popular Chicago comedy staple has long been seen as a source of talent for Saturday Night Live with notable alumni such as Tina Fey, John Belushi, Amy Poehler, Alan Arkin and Eugene Levy. The longtime theater has had a hard time with live events canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the summer of 2020, the brand came under further criticism when black performers called the theater up for racism and abuse. The theater has promised to make big and often expensive changes to resolve their race issues and promote black voices. In October, The Second City announced that it would be available for sale.

“We are very excited to partner with the leadership and incredible talent of The Second City to grow the brand and build a diverse organization that raises all voices,” said Jordan Turkewitz, Co-Chief Investment Officer and Managing Partner at ZMC in A declaration. “Over its sixty year history, The Second City has hosted some of the most beloved names in comedy, and we plan to nurture the next generation of comedic talent by investing in people and creativity.

Steve Johnston, The Second City President, added: “We are delighted to be working with ZMC as we continue to transform the business into a fair and prosperous environment while delivering world-class comedy to our audience. I want to thank the talent, staff, alumni and audiences of The Second City for supporting us on our journey. ”

ZMC was founded in 2001 by Zelnick, CEO of the Take-Two Interactive video game group
TTWO
, to invest in media companies. The Second City isn’t the most traditional of media companies, but with three theaters, pre-pandemic 700 full and part-time employees, and an Actors Equity stage contract, Second City is the largest comedy brand in direct to the United States.

While many sites are having a hard time due to the coronavirus, buyouts by private equity or similar groups may become more common. Buying The Second City is buying more than a theater. He buys a name and a legacy brand that has been synonymous with humorous programming. During the TV show, Second City Television, aired in Canada in the late 1970s, the mark was not used for much outside of a live performance and their comedy school. Especially now that live-action comedy is heavily restricted, ZMC may try to fit the brand into TV, film, and new media.

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