What Is a Marquee Asset?

A marquee asset–also referred to as a "flagship asset" or "crown jewel"–is a company's most prized possession. It is a highly visible symbol of its success and is often the biggest contributor to its bottom line. A company with a coveted marquee asset may become a target for a bigger rival, or a rival with deep pockets, even if the other assets in the company's portfolio do not amount to much.

Key Takeaways

  • A marquee asset is a company's most prized and valuable asset.
  • The marquee assets may be physical assets or intangibles, such as goodwill or patents.
  • The "crown jewel" defense is a hostile takeover defense that involves the sale of the target firm's marquee asset to make it less desirable to the acquirer.

Understanding Marquee Assets

Marquee assets are generally a feature of smaller companies that have limited assets in the areas of resources and biotechnology, rather than large, diversified companies. The mineral property of a junior exploration company that has significant mineable resources might be considered its marquee assets. A medication with sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars that belongs to a relatively small biotechnology firm would be considered that company's marquee asset.

A company is generally unwilling to part with its marquee asset unless it is in dire financial straits. However, a small firm with a marquee asset can run the risk of a hostile takeover because larger firms with more resources may seek to acquire and utilize this asset. In some situations, the buyer may shut down the smaller company's operations after extracting the marquee asset. Management at the company in possession of the marquee asset may seek to preempt this risk through a "crown jewels" defensive maneuver. This maneuver involves the company selling off its marquee asset to prevent a hostile takeover.

Example of Marquee Assets

Marquee assets may be tangible or intangible benefits to the company. For example, an algorithm developed by a company to decipher data and present that information in a structured fashion that is unique to its industry could be considered a marquee asset. A company's patented technology can also be considered marquee assets. The manufacturing process used by a company to create its products can also be considered marquee assets. Items that are difficult to reverse engineer and mass-produce are more often considered marquee assets.

The knowledge and connections of a key individual within the company might also be considered marquee assets. A company might be built around the reputation and business relationships that a key individual has developed over time.

The aptitude of an individual in a specific field can also be a marquee asset: an understanding of coding, product design, or even their ability to attract other talented professionals to the team. For some companies, brand names and brand recognition are marquee assets.