Endeavor Group Holdings has agreed to acquire a controlling stake in the WWE by forming a new public company that combines the wrestling company and the UFC. The acquisition will create a new $21.4 billion sports entertainment company.
The transaction has been unanimously approved by the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of Endeavor and by the Board of Directors of WWE.
Endeavor will own a 51% stake in the new company, while WWE shareholders will have the remaining 49%, according to the terms of the agreement. The deal values WWE at $9.3 billion and UFC, which is owned by Endeavor, at $12.1 billion, the companies said in a press release.
The announcement comes after Vince McMahon, the founder and majority shareholder of WWE, returned to the company in January and said that it could be up for sale. Rumors swirled about who would possibly be interested in buying WWE, with chatter focusing on companies such as Endeavor, Disney, Fox, Comcast, Amazon and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Under terms of the deal Endeavor will contribute its UFC unit to the new company. The transaction values WWE at about $106 a share. UFC and WWE will contribute cash to the new company, which will hold $150 million. By combining, the companies expect to be able to create cost synergies of $50 million to $100 million.
The new company will be led by Ari Emanuel. Vince McMahon will be executive chairman, while Endeavor President and COO Mark Shapiro will also work in the same roles at the new company. Dana White will remain as president of UFC, and WWE CEO Nick Khan will stay on as president of the wrestling business.
“This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed,” Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said in a news release. “This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed.”
McMahon added, “Together, we will be a $21+ billion live sports and entertainment powerhouse with a collective fanbase of more than a billion people and an exciting growth opportunity. The new company will be well positioned to maximize the value of our combined media rights, enhance sponsorship monetization, develop new forms of content and pursue other strategic mergers and acquisitions to further bolster our strong stable of brands. I, along with the current WWE management team, look forward to working closely with Ari and the Endeavor and UFC teams to take the businesses to the next level.”
The deal was timed as WWE media rights come up for renewal. It has deals with NBCUniversal and Fox for its weekly shows Raw and Smackdown and its live events currently appear on NBCU’s Peacock streaming service. UFC’s events are carried on The Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN and ESPN Plus.
Who is Endeavor Group Holdings?
Endeavor Group Holdings was founded in 1995 by Ari Emanuel and has since grown to become one of the largest and most diverse entertainment companies in the world. Endeavor Group Holdings operates in a variety of industries, including sports, entertainment, fashion, and talent representation.
One of Endeavor Group Holdings’ most notable subsidiaries is the talent agency William Morris Endeavor (WME). WME represents some of the biggest names in entertainment, including actors, musicians, and athletes. The company also has a sports division, which manages athletes and sports teams. This division is known as Endeavor Sports Management and represents some of the biggest names in sports, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams.
Endeavor Group Holdings is also involved in the production and distribution of television shows and movies. The company owns the production company Endeavor Content, which has produced several hit TV shows and movies, including Killing Eve, The Night Manager, and La La Land. Endeavor Content also has a distribution arm, which helps to bring these shows and movies to audiences around the world.
In addition to its talent representation and production businesses, Endeavor Group Holdings also operates in the fashion industry. The company owns the modeling agency IMG Models, which represents some of the biggest names in fashion, including Gigi Hadid and Kate Moss. Endeavor Group Holdings also operates several fashion events, including New York Fashion Week.
Endeavor Group Holdings has continued to grow and expand its operations over the years. In 2018, the company acquired the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), one of the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotions. This acquisition has helped to strengthen Endeavor Group Holdings’ position in the sports industry and has given the company access to a massive audience of fans around the world.