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WWE, UFC to merge into $21 billion entertainment giant

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc on Monday announced its merger with Endeavor Group-owned mixed martial arts franchise UFC to form a new entertainment giant valued at about $21 billion.

This deal unites two of the biggest names in wrestling and entertainment and marks the end of a months-long sale process for WWE, which was overseen by its co-founder and executive chairman Vince McMahon.
The new company will be publicly listed and will be led by Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, who described the deal as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring together two leading pure-play sports and entertainment companies.”

Emanuel said he would capitalise on Endeavor’s expertise in securing media deals, sponsorships, and new forms of distribution to fuel growth at the new company.

Emanuel, who will lead the new company as CEO while continuing in his role at Endeavor, has transformed the company into a sports and entertainment powerhouse with over 20 acquisitions, including bull riding events, fashion shows, and tennis competitions.

Under the deal, UFC and WWE will also contribute cash to the new company so that it holds nearly $150 million. The agreement values each share of WWE at $106, representing a premium of 16 percent to the company’s Friday closing, and gives WWE an enterprise value of $9.3 billion.

McMahon will retain his role in the new company, which will be majority-owned by Endeavor with a 51 percent stake, while WWE investors will own the rest.

The newly created company seeks to capitalise on consumers’ desire to participate in live experiences and their appetite to bet on sports, which has resumed since the height of the pandemic.

The new company will be listed under ticker symbol “TKO” on the New York Stock Exchange.

In January, WWE said it would explore strategic options that could include a sale, shortly after McMahon’s return to the company. McMahon had retired in July last year as the company’s CEO and chair following an investigation into alleged misconduct. Co-CEO Stephanie McMahon, who ran the company on her own when her father exited, resigned a week after he returned in January. CNBC TV18

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