Endeavor Taken Private In $13Bn Deal, What Next For WWE?

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What impact will Endeavor’s latest deal have on WWE?

On April 2nd it was announced that private equity firm Silver Lake had acquired Endeavor in a deal valued at $13 billion. Under the deal, Silver Lake will get 100% of the shares it doesn’t already own, while shareholders will receive $27.50 in cash for each share.

Although Endeavor is the parent company of TKO Group Holdings which is made up of WWE and UFC, nothing is expected to change for the MMA and sports entertainment giants. In a press release, it was noted that TKO is “not party to this transaction” and will remain publicly traded.

Following the news, Endeavor’s share price rose 2% while the TKO price climbed 5%.

You can find an excerpt of the press release from Silver Lake below.

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. & MENLO PARK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EDR) (“Endeavor” or the “Company”), a global sports and entertainment company, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Silver Lake, the global leader in technology investing, in partnership with the Endeavor management team and additional anchor investors.

Under the terms of the agreement, Silver Lake will acquire 100% of the outstanding shares it does not already own, other than rolled interests. Endeavor stockholders will receive $27.50 per share in cash, representing a 55% premium to the unaffected share price of $17.72 per share at market close on October 25, 2023, the last full trading day prior to Endeavor’s announcement of its review of strategic alternatives, and a 39% premium to Endeavor’s unaffected 30‐day VWAP.

With the significant premium being delivered to stockholders, Endeavor is being acquired at an equity value of $13 billion. Silver Lake believes that when consolidating all of TKO’s value into Endeavor, the combined total enterprise value of $25 billion will make this the largest private equity sponsor public-to-private investment transaction in over a decade, and the largest ever in the media and entertainment sector.

On the unaffected date, the equity value was $8.2 billion, and the premium to be paid by Silver Lake represents $4.6 billion more equity value to all Endeavor stockholders.

Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, said: “Since 2012, Endeavor’s strategic partnership with Silver Lake and Egon Durban have been central to our evolution into the global sports and entertainment leader we are today. We believe this transaction will maximize value for all of Endeavor’s public stockholders and are excited to continue to unlock and invest in the growth opportunities ahead as a private company.”

Egon Durban, Co-CEO and Managing Partner of Silver Lake, and Chairman of the Board of Endeavor, said: “Our unwavering belief in Ari and Patrick, together with Mark and other talented leaders at Endeavor, has never been stronger. This is a very special partnership. Together, we have built and grown Endeavor from $350 million in annual revenue when we first invested in 2012 to nearly $6 billion in consolidated revenue today.

Now, Endeavor can take advantage of its unique core platform to meet the dynamic forces driving growth in content, sports, and live events with bold vision. Consistent with our mission and underscored by this commitment being among the largest in Silver Lake’s history, we are all in on working with the Endeavor team and our trusted anchor investors to create value by accelerating growth at scale.”

Patrick Whitesell, Executive Chairman of Endeavor, said: “With Silver Lake’s continued partnership and support, Endeavor is ideally positioned to capitalize on compelling trends in media and entertainment, where global content spending has reached more than $200 billion per year. In a business where the only constant is change, I know Endeavor will continue to lead the industry forward.”

Mark Shapiro, President and Chief Operating Officer of Endeavor, said: “Endeavor’s assets and capabilities across entertainment, sports, fashion, and music are unparalleled.

This transaction further enhances our ability to deliver category-defining deals and iconic events and experiences for clients, partners, and fans around the world. Egon, Stephen, and the broader Silver Lake team have been and will continue to be phenomenal partners in Endeavor’s journey, and we look forward to the road ahead.”

Stephen Evans, Managing Director of Silver Lake and a Director of Endeavor, said: “The team at Silver Lake is proud of our longstanding partnership with Endeavor, marked by more than $3.5 billion of direct investment across six distinct transactions over 12 years.

We are excited about what we can achieve together in this next phase, spearheaded by Endeavor’s visionary expertise across talent representation and content and ownership of truly special, marquee assets in sports.”

The transaction builds on multiple investments Silver Lake has made in Endeavor starting with Silver Lake’s initial investment in William Morris Endeavor in 2012 and continuing through Endeavor’s subsequent acquisition of IMG in 2014 and initial public offering in 2021. Silver Lake also supported Endeavor’s acquisition of UFC in 2016 and the merger of UFC and WWE, creating premium sports and entertainment company TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: TKO) (“TKO”) in 2023.

TKO is not party to this transaction and will remain a publicly traded company that will continue to benefit from its connectivity to Endeavor’s expertise, relationships, and significant capabilities.

When Did Endeavor Aquire WWE?

Endeavor’s takeover of WWE was first announced in April 2023 but wasn’t finalised until September. As part of the deal, WWE merged with UFC and created TKO Group Holdings.

The move meant that WWE left McMahon-family control for the first time in its history — a lineage that can be traced by back to the 1950s.

Vince McMahon was installed on the TKO Board of Directors but was later forced to resign following allegations of sex trafficking and sexual assault.