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For Hackman, best supporting role goes to Square Mile Capital

The partnership between the operator and the asset manager has led to the biggest independent studio platform on the planet.

For nearly 30 years, Hackman Capital Partners was known as an infill industrial asset manager in Greater Los Angeles, renovating those properties or converting them into creative office spaces.

Hackman Capital Partners

$7.5bn

Studio assets under management

Headquarters: Los Angeles

Who’s in their corner: Square Mile Capital through a long-term joint venture; a $1.25bn commingled fund launched last year

In 2014, that changed. Hackman bought Culver Studios, a century-old complex that housed the productions of Hollywood classics such as Citizen Kane and Gone with the Wind. The $90 million acquisition set the firm on course to become the preeminent owner-operator of independent film studios and usher institutional capital in the sector.

Through a joint platform with New York-based asset manager Square Mile Capital, Hackman owns and operates 380 sound stages across 65 locations throughout North America, the UK and Ireland. It pegs the value of this still-growing portfolio at $7.5 billion.
The two firms initially linked up in 2018 to acquire Television City, a studio in Los Angeles, from CBS for $750 million. They joined forces again the following year to purchase Manhattan Beach Studios, an LA area complex with its own production services platform, from the Carlyle Group for $650 million.

“We agreed there’s a lot of room for this partnership to run,” Jesse Goepel, Square Mile’s managing director of investments, tells PERE. “We agreed at that point, rather than compete in the sector – rather than compete on a deal-by-deal basis, renegotiate terms, whatever it is – let’s set up a long-term, durable, fully exclusive partnership.”

The exclusive partnership between Hackman and Square Mile has a time-based arrangement with both sides committing to provide a set share of capital for each investment, Goepel says, declining to get into the specific duration or financial structure. Michael Hackman, the firm’s founder and chief executive, declined to comment for this report.

The firms’ biggest coup to date came at the end of last year, when they acquired CBS’s LA-based Studio City property, a sprawling 55-acre campus with 22 soundstages, for $1.85 billion.

Hackman and Square Mile may be in lockstep when it comes to their investments and developments, but in their marriage, the accounts remain separate. Square Mile draws its diversified funds while Hackman is raising dedicated capital for the strategy; it launched a fund seeking $1.25 billion to finance its studio pursuits last year.

Goepel says the Manhattan Beach Studios platform has proven to be as critical to the partnership’s success as the two capital sources.

“They know the global picture, where tenants need and want to be and the underlying dynamics driving this business,” he says. “By backing them and then keeping the entire senior manager team in house and on our side collectively, it really has positioned us incredibly well to execute our base thesis – to target the top production assets and the top production markets around the world.”