Andreas Helgstrand, CEO of Global Equestrian Group (GEG) and Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP) have joined forces on developing international equestrian sport.
The rumour of Helgstrand buying a stake into the Wellington show grounds and organisation has been floating round for almost 1.5 years but today it become official.
GEG will acquire the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) and will invest in WEP equestrian lifestyle initiatives in Wellington, Florida. WEP’s largest partners, Mark Bellissimo, Roger Smith, Lisa Lourie, and Marsha Dammerman as well as Michael Stone will co-invest in GEG.
Helgstrand Buys into Wellington
Mark Bellissimo and PBIEC have transformed Wellington into a premiere destination for equestrian enthusiasts, with competitions and events across more than 40 weeks every year. PBIEC is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival (show jumping), spanning 13 weeks and is the world’s largest and longest-running equestrian sports event.
4,000 families, 8,000 horses, and 250,000 spectators from 43 different countries converge on Wellington to compete for over USD 12 million in prize money.
A recent independent economic study highlighted the Winter Equestrian Festival’s annual economic impact on Palm Beach County of USD 279 million of total expenditures and 150,000 bed nights. GEG is part of Waterland Private Equity, who manage a global investment portfolio in excess of USD 11 billion.
PBIEC operates 16 competition arenas, 2,500 stalls, and provides participants and spectators with a variety of exclusive restaurants, shopping, hospitality areas, and other first-class facilities.
Bellissimo and Helgstrand Partner
PBIEC management will remain intact with Mark Bellissimo continuing as CEO, Michael Stone as President, and David Burton as Chief Operating officer. The GEG initiative will launch major investments in all areas of the facility ensuring that PBIEC will continue to be a major sport horse venue in the world with increased exposure in Europe, Asia, and South America.
The purchase includes an 11-acre expansion of the show grounds.
To ensure continuity, the WEP partners required a 50-year deed restriction on the venue that guarantees USEF and FEI sanctioned shows on the property.
USEF CEO, Bill Moroney, commented, “As always, we are pleased to see a continued investment in US equestrian sport. This significant commitment to world class facilities, horse and rider welfare, and USEF and FEI competitions further validates the market’s demand, at all levels, for organized sport.”
Andreas Helgstrand added, “The Winter Equestrian Festival and PBIEC are fantastic brands within international equestrian sport. Together, we will strengthen the offering and create a global market leader spreading our passion for equestrian sport and lifestyle to new markets.”
Outside of equestrian events the Group is active in other equestrian investments including Helgstrand Dressage, Ludger Beerbaum Stables, Helgstrand Jewellery, and the equestrian apparel and accessories company Kingsland Equestrian. At present, the total revenue of these combined is USD180 million.
GEG Goes Global
GEG will now have event venues in the US, Germany, and Denmark.
"Our goal is to enhance equestrian sport by providing superior venues and top sport so riders across the world can live out their passions and dreams. With the acquisition of PBIEC, we now have the perfect setting to do this in the US and with our current expansion of Riesenbeck International in Germany we will have two top professional and attractive show grounds,” says Ludger Beerbaum, four-time Olympic gold medalist in jumping and co-owner of Global Equestrian Group.
Bellissimo added, “We are pleased to be collaborating with both Andreas and Ludger, whose passion and commitment to equestrian sport is extraordinary. Opportunities abound to take the sport to a new level.”
Impact on Dressage in Florida
GEG and WEP are evaluating further investment opportunities in Wellington including a new state of the art Global Dressage Festival showgrounds. Bellissimo will be announcing a comprehensive strategy and a series of investments to elevate Wellington as the World’s premiere equestrian lifestyle destination thus strengthening its international appeal.
The acquisition of PBIEC establishes Global Equestrian Group as a true global market leader in equestrian sports with a strong financial foundation and exciting growth opportunities,” says Kaspar Kristiansen, Managing Director, Waterland Nordic.
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