The Transaction

The Principals of Founders Investment Banking, LLC acted as lead financial advisor in a sale of Student Life, LLC. The company was acquired by LifeWay Christian Resources (LifeWay), a non-profit agency of the Southern Baptist Convention.


The Companies

Student Life, based in Birmingham, Ala., has provided Christian summer camps, conferences and information for children and youth across the U.S. The organization provides ministry with Gospel-centered, Bible-based experiences that transform youth & kids into devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Since the first Student Life event in 1993, the company’s customer base has grown tremendously to include over 65,000 event participants and approximately 10,500 churches.

LifeWay Christian Resources was established in Nashville, Tenn., in 1891, and is one of the world’s largest providers of Christian products and services, including Bibles, church literature, books, music, audio and video recordings, church supplies and Internet services through LifeWay.com. The company also owns and operates 160 LifeWay Christian Stores across the nation, as well as two of the largest Christian conference centers in the country.


The Objective

The Company was founded by Randy Hall, who had dedicated much of his career and life to student ministry. Randy and Founders have a long personal and business relationship, with Founders advising Student Life on the sale of their publishing assets to NavPress in 2010. Founders also sourced growth financing for the business in 2011.

Randy had been the steward of the Student Life business for twenty years, and was seeking a partner who could continue the ministry work that Student Life had become known for while retaining the employees and culture that made Student Life specialThere were many different service and product offerings to the Student Life business, including camps, events, mission trips, Student Life for Kids, Student Life @ the Beach, Student Life Resources, Refuge and their relationship with Compassion International. All of these components and considerations had to be incorporated into the sell-side process.


The Solution

The Principals of Founders advised Student Life to seek a strategic sale to achieve the immediate goals of the company while also providing a path forward for the leadership and employees. Through extensive research and dialog with companies that operated in many different aspects of ministry, non-profit, and other Christian-related enterprises, Founders developed a wide range of potential buyers. After reviewing these with the client, the company was then marketed to a targeted group of potential partners, and Founders was able to source several potential options for the company. Subsequently, a series of in-depth and open management meetings were held to address the question of potential fit between the different enterprises.

Ultimately, LifeWay Christian Resources provided the best combination of benefits for the Student Life, from a cultural, financial and combined leadership.

  • Combined, LifeWay and Student Life minister to more than 130,000 teens each year as two of the largest providers of Christian student conferences
  • LifeWay has been able to leverage their brand in expanding the reach and resources of Student Life
  • Liquidity was achieved for the ownership of Student Life, which allowed for repayment of existing obligations who had funded growth in the company, as well as to start some new initiatives
  • Student Life was able to remain in their existing offices in Birmingham, retaining much of their existing autonomy and culture, as well as their leadership and employee base
  • Founders was able to complete this intense process, whose objectives were as much or more relational and cultural as financial

In order to provide securities-related services discussed herein, certain principals of Founders are licensed with M&A Securities Group, Inc. or Founders M&A Advisory, LLC, both members FINRA & SiPC. M&A Securities Group and Founders are unaffiliated entities. Founders M&A Advisory is a wholly owned subsidiary of Founders.

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