With news overnight that Endeavor was in advanced talks to conclude a deal with WWE, this deal has now been made official.
In a company press release, WWE has confirmed that it will be merging with the Endeavor Group - who notably are the parent company of UFC - to form a new publicly traded company. The deal will see Endeavor hold a 51% controlling stake in this newly formed company, while existing WWE shareholders will hold a 49% interest.
As part of this deal, the new company will be valued at over $21 billion, with UFC attributed $12.1 billion of that figure and WWE valued at $9.3 billion. In terms of roles, this to-be-named company will be led by Chief Executive Officer Ariel Emanuel, who will also remain in his CEO role for Endeavor; Vince McMahon will serve as Executive Chairman of the Board; and Mark Shapiro will continue on as Chief Operating Officer of Endeavor and take on that same job with the new company.
The Board of Directors for this organisation will consist of 11 members who will be named at a later date, with six of those people being appointed by Endeavor and five by WWE. Additionally, Dana White will continue as President of UFC, and Nick Khan will operate as President of WWE.
"Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EDR) (“Endeavor”) and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE) (“WWE”) today announced that they have signed a definitive agreement to form a new, publicly listed company consisting of two iconic, complementary, global sports and entertainment brands: UFC and WWE. Upon close, Endeavor will hold a 51% controlling interest in the new company and existing WWE shareholders will hold a 49% interest in the new company."
On this news, Endeavor CEO Ariel Emanuel enthused:
"This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed. For decades, Vince and his team have demonstrated an incredible track record of innovation and shareholder value creation, and we are confident that Endeavor can deliver significant additional value for shareholders by bringing UFC and WWE together."
For his part, WWE Executive Chairman Vince McMahon commented:
“Given the incredible work that Ari and Endeavor have done to grow the UFC brand – nearly doubling its revenue over the past seven years – and the immense success we’ve already had in partnering with their team on a number of ventures, I believe that this is without a doubt the best outcome for our shareholders and other stakeholders.
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.”
Of course, expect to be hearing a whole lot more on this situation as we await further details on what this purchase means for WWE on several different levels.
For WWE, this truly marks the end of an era for the organisation as a family-owned business.
Founded as the Capitol Wrestling Corporation in 1953, it was Vincent J. McMahon and his father Jess McMahon who launched what is nowadays known as WWE. Of course, the company was purchased by Vince McMahon Jr. in 1982, and Vince soon went about planning for national and international dominance, which resulted in him playing a part in eventually driving all of his rivals out of business as WWE established itself as the market leader.