Andreas Helgstrand’s Global Equestrian Group Acquires Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida

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Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. File photo. © Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

July 9, 2021

Andreas Helgstrand’s Global Equestrian Group will acquire the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the world’s premier winter destination for dressage and jumping, in what was described as an “unprecedented partnership” with the current ownership group to develop international equestrian sport.

The announcement made Friday by the Denmark-based Andreas, CEO of the global group (GEG), and Mark Bellissimo of Wellington Equestrian Partners said that GEG, will acquire PBIEC and invest in WEP equestrian lifestyle initiatives.

The Global group and Wellington Equestrian Partners are evaluating further investment opportunities in Wellington including a new state of the art Global Dressage Festival showgrounds. The current Global Dressage facility is part of PBIEC.

WEP’s largest partners, Mark Bellissimo, Roger Smith, Lisa Lourie, and Marsha Dammerman as well as Michael Stone, president, will co-invest in GEG.

PBIEC is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival of 13 weeks making it the world’s largest and longest-running equestrian sports event. About 4,000 families, 8,000 horses, and 250,000 spectators from 43 different countries converge on Wellington to compete for over $12 million in prize money. A recent independent economic study highlighted the show’s annual economic impact on Palm Beach County of $279 million of total expenditures and 150,000 bed nights. GEG is part of Waterland Private Equity, which manages a global investment portfolio of more than in $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 facilities. 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 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.

U.S. Equestrian Federation 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, co-owner and CEO of GEG 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 GEG is active in other equestrian investments including Helgstrand Dressage, Ludger Beerbaum Stables, Helgstrand Jewellery, and the equestrian apparel and accessories company Kingsland Equestrian. Total revenue of the combined operations is $180 million.

Helgstrand already operates a horse sales business in Wellington, having acquired an 80-acre/32.3 Ha. farm near PBIEC two years ago.

GEG will now have event venues in the 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 statement said. “Furthermore, the partnership enables the Group to leverage PBIEC’s experience and create a European equestrian sports event company.”

Ludger Beerbaum, four-time Olympic jumping gold medalist for Germany and co-owner of GEG, said: “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 U.S. and with our current expansion of Riesenbeck International in Germany we will have two top professional and attractive show grounds.”

Mark Bellissimo said: “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.”

Mark will announce a comprehensive strategy and a series of investments to elevate Wellington as the world’s premiere equestrian lifestyle destination thus strengthening its international appeal.