RLJ Companies

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The RLJ Companies
Privately held
HeadquartersBethesda, Maryland
Key people
Robert L. Johnson
ProductsInvestment Holdings

The RLJ Companies is an American asset management firm owned by entrepreneur Robert Louis Johnson.[1][2][3][4][5] After selling Black Entertainment Television in 2001, Johnson’s first company, he created RLJ Companies in Bethesda, Maryland.[6][7][8] The company’s network includes hotel real estate investment, private equity, financial services, asset management, insurance services, car dealerships, sports and entertainment, and video lottery terminal (VLT) gaming.[3][9] The company is headquartered in Bethesda and has additional offices in Charlotte, North Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; Los Angeles, California; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Monrovia, Liberia.[10]


Robert L. Johnson founded The RLJ Companies in 2002 in Bethesda, Maryland.[6][7] Johnson serves as chairman of the company.[3] Previous to founding The RLJ Companies, Johnson owned BET, which he sold to Viacom in 2001.[11] He remained on at BET as its CEO through 2006.[3]

In 2001, Johnson and Tom Baltimore started RLJ Lodging Trust with six hotels.[12] RLJ Lodging Trust started as RLJ Development and changed its name when it went public on the New York Stock Exchange under RLJ on May 13, 2011.[13][14] The company operates in 21 states with 149 hotels under global brands including Courtyard by Marriott, Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt Place and Embassy Suites Hotels.[15][16] In 2008, RLJ Companies formed a partnership with Global Building Solutions to build a 78-room luxury resort and spa in Monrovia, Liberia.[6] The RLJ Kendeja Resort & Villas opened in March 2009. Thomas J. Baltimore Jr. served as president and CEO of RLJ Lodging Trust until his resignation on April 27, 2016, so that he could assume a similar role with Hilton's REIT. Ross H. Bierkan was appointed CEO on August 1, 2016.[17]

David Rubenstein and Johnson partnered with Carlyle Group in 2006 to form RLJ Equity Partners, a middle-market equity firm.[12][18] RLJ Equity Partners invested in CVC, the largest tour operator in Latin America, in January 2010.[19] In September 2010, it partnered with Enhanced Recovery Corp to gain more presence in the Southeast.[20] It has also invested in Fleischmann’s Vinegar, LAI International, TMone, Naylor and R. Thompson Trucking Inc.[20][21][22][23]

Johnson collaborated with Mack McLarty and Steve Landers to create RLJ-McLarty-Landers Automotive Holdings, LLC in 2007.[24] It is the parent company for Little Rock, Arkansas based RML Automotive.[25] Johnson holds 60% of RLJ-McLarty-Landers Automotive Holdings, LLC, making it the largest minority-owned automotive dealership in the country.[12]

In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Global Building Solutions collaborated with RLJ Companies to form Caribbean Opportunity Holdings in April 2010.[26]

Trading under NASDAQ as RLJAU, RLJ Acquisition was formed as a special-purpose acquisition company in December 2010 with the purpose of consummating business combinations.[27][28] H.Van Sinclair serves as CEO.[27]

RLJ Entertainment Inc. formed when the RLJ Companies acquired Acorn Media Group, Inc. and Image Entertainment Inc. in 2012.[12][13] It trades under the NASDAQ ticker RLJE.


  1. ^ Susie Gharib; Tyler Mathisen; Hampton Pearson; Mary Thompson (20 January 2014). "News; Domestic". Nightly Business Report.
  2. ^ Ashley Halsey III (6 August 2013). "News of sale rocks readers, but many express optimism". The Washington Post.
  3. ^ a b c d "Robert L. Johnson Leaders Interview". Leaders Online. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  4. ^ Evan Weese (16 April 2013). "Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference coming May 15–18". Business First of Columbus Online.
  5. ^ Alex Biles (13 March 2013). "The Top 20 African-American CEOs in Business Today". Benzinga.com.
  6. ^ a b c Stephanie Elam. "BET founder to build spa resort in war-torn Liberia". CNN World. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b Adam Bryant (November 12, 2011). "No Ranting and Raving Is Permitted". Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  8. ^ Michael A. Fletcher (18 December 2012). "BET founder offers plan to cut racial disparity in hiring; BET founder says Obama should ask firms to interview black candidates for top jobs to cut unemployment gap". WashingtonPost.com.
  9. ^ Sergie Willoughby. "BET Founder Robert L. Johnson Inducted into Giants of Broadcasting Honors". The Network Journal. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  10. ^ "Association Management Company Naylor Acquired by RLJ Equity Partners". TSNN Trade Show News. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  11. ^ Louise Story (August 2, 2007). "CNBC Admirers Talk About Their Climb Up The Ladder". Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  12. ^ a b c d Dinah Eng. "Bob Johnson moves way beyond BET". CNNMoney. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  13. ^ a b Dave McNary (3 October 2012). "RLJ completes distribution acquisition; Company's purchase of Image Ent., Acorn Media creates new digital distrib". Daily Variety.
  14. ^ Arlena Sawyers (7 May 2012). "Johnson: Power in partnerships". 86 (6515). Automotive News.
  15. ^ John Kell (February 2, 2011). "RLJ Lodging Trust Plans IPO". Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  16. ^ Abha Bhattarai. "RLJ Lodging Trust plans to expand following latest public offering". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  17. ^ "RLJ Lodging Trust gears up for transactions". Hotel News. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  18. ^ Mary Kathleen Flynn (1 March 2012). "The RLJ Rule; BET founder Robert L. Johnson urges companies to seek minority candidates for executive openings". 47 (3). Mergers & Acquisitions.
  19. ^ Dana Hedgpeth (8 January 2010). "Carlyle acquires Brazilian tour operator; $250 million CVC deal advances D.C. firm's overseas growth plans". The Washington Post.
  20. ^ a b Jonathan Marino (20 September 2010). "RLJ Teams With Enhanced Recovery". 23 (38). Mergers & Acquisitions Report.
  21. ^ "Investing in his passion". Press Citizen. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  22. ^ "Emerald Deal Tops 2013 M&A Activity". ExpoWeb. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  23. ^ "RLJ Equity Partners Acquires R. Thompson Trucking Inc". Transport Topics. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  24. ^ "Difficult times yield big rewards for dealer group". Automotive News. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  25. ^ "Why Toyota of Lewisville got a new owner". Dallas Business Journal. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  26. ^ "RLJ Companies to Bring Jobs, Build Homes in Haiti". Black Enterprise. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  27. ^ a b "RLJ Acquisition, Inc". NASDAQ. Retrieved 16 April 2014.
  28. ^ "Johnson wheels and deals to fulfill ambitions for RLJ". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 April 2014.