A new ownership team has taken over control of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington.
Andreas Helgstrand, CEO of Global Equestrian Group (GEG), and Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Wellington Equestrian Partners (WEP), announced a partnership Friday, July 9 focused on developing international equestrian sports.
GEG will acquire PBIEC and will invest in WEP equestrian lifestyle initiatives. WEP’s largest partners, Mark Bellissimo, Roger Smith, Lisa Lourie, and Marsha Dammerman, as well as Michael Stone, will co-invest in GEG.
Over the past 15 years, Bellissimo and PBIEC have transformed Wellington into the world’s premier destination for equestrian enthusiasts, with competitions and events across more than 40 weeks every year.
PBIEC is home to the 13-week Winter Equestrian Festival, the world’s largest and longest-running equestrian sports event that brings 4,000 families, 8,000 horses and 250,000 spectators from 43 different countries competing for more than $12 million in prize money.
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 amenities. PBIEC management will remain intact, with Bellissimo continuing as CEO, 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 the pre-eminent sport horse venue in the world, with increased exposure in Europe, Asia and South America.
The purchase includes an 11-acre expansion of the showgrounds. 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.
“As always, we are pleased to see a continued investment in U.S. equestrian sport,” said Bill Moroney, CEO of the United States Equestrian Federation. “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.”
Helgstrand, co-owner and CEO of GEG, is proud to be part of the new ownership team.
“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,” he said.
Outside of equestrian events, GEG is active in other equestrian investments, including Helgstrand Dressage, Ludger Beerbaum Stables, Helgstrand Jewellery, and the equestrian apparel and accessories company Kingsland Equestrian.
GEG will now have event venues in the U.S., Germany and Denmark. The partnership will benefit from knowledge sharing and a strengthened positioning of PBIEC within show jumping, where Ludger Beerbaum Stables has a unique market position. The partnership also enables the group to leverage PBIEC’s experience and create a European equestrian sports event company.
“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,” said Ludger Beerbaum, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in jumping and co-owner of Global Equestrian Group. “With the acquisition of PBIEC, we now have the perfect setting to do this in the U.S., and with our current expansion of Riesenbeck International in Germany, we will have two top professional and attractive show grounds.”
Bellissimo believes that the acquisition is a good thing for worldwide equestrian sports.
“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,” he said.
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 premier 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,” said Kaspar Kristiansen, managing director of Waterland Nordic, an independent private equity investment group involved in the acquisition.