Bowling alleys — once symbols of America’s fraying society — have a new buzz.
And Comcast’s former vice chairman, Michael Angelakis, who manages the $4 billion Comcast-backed investment firm Atairos, has taken notice with a financial stake in the nation’s No. 1 bowling center operator, Bowlmor AMF, which has modernized run-down alleys into hipster hangouts and family attractions.
Terms were not disclosed, but Atairos representatives are expected to join Bowlmor AMF’s board. The ownership position was previously held by hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management LP.
“We believe there’s great potential for continuing growth through execution of the business plan as well as related acquisitions,” Angelakis said in a statement. Angelakis is the chief executive officer and chairman of the fund, with offices and Bryn Mawr and New York.
Angelakis has confidence in bowling despite years of lane closures and bankruptcies. A 2000 book by Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone, brought attention to the plight of closing bowling alleys in towns across America, saying this reflected the retreat by Americans from civic life.
Bowlmor AMF CEO Tom Shannon — who claims in a video on his website that he taught Kim Kardashian — began with one decaying bowling center in New York and has expanded rapidly by acquiring AMF lanes out of bankruptcy and buying Brunswick-branded bowling centers.
Bowlmor AMF did not respond to phone calls or emails. In the video, Shannon said his hope was to transform the company, which operates about 300 bowling centers in the United States, into a “multibillion-dollar diversified entertainment company.” Angelakis noted in his statement that the stake in Bowlmor AMF enables Atairos to invest in the “out-of-home entertainment market.”
Bowling is a $6 billion industry in the United States, according to published reports. Bowlmor, which is privately held, had revenues of $582.6 million in 2016, a 9.4 percent boost from 2015, when the company generated revenues of $532 million, a financial statement on its website states. The company reported a net loss of $1.5 million in 2016 and a loss of $46.6 million the prior year.
This is the second contrarian investment by Angelakis. In April, Atairos bought $250 million in senior notes of fallen star Groupon. The notes were due in 2022 and could be converted into shares in the online-deals site at $5.40 a share. That day, the Chicago-based Groupon’s shares closed at $4.29. They are now trading at around $3.10 a share.
Atairos also has invested in sports media and information technology firms.