WWE agrees to merge with UFC to create a new company run by Ari Emanuel and Vince McMahon

World Wrestling Leisure Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon (L) and wrestler Triple H seem within the ring throughout the WWE Monday Evening Uncooked present on the Thomas & Mack Middle August 24, 2009

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Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment has agreed to merge with UFC to kind a brand new publicly traded firm managed by Endeavor Group, the businesses introduced Monday morning.

Endeavor will personal a 51% stake within the new fight sports activities and leisure firm, whereas WWE shareholders may have the remaining 49%, in keeping with the phrases of the settlement. The deal values WWE at $9.3 billion and UFC, which is owned by Endeavor, at $12.1 billion, the businesses stated in a press release.

Shares of WWE fell in premarket buying and selling, whereas Endeavor shares rose.

Ari Emanuel will act as chief government of each Endeavor and the brand new firm, the businesses stated. McMahon, likewise, will likely be government chairman, whereas Endeavor President and COO Mark Shapiro will even work in the identical roles on the new firm. Dana White will stay as president of UFC, and WWE CEO Nick Khan will keep on as president of the wrestling enterprise.

The board will encompass 11 folks, six appointed by Endeavor and 5 by WWE. The merged firm’s title will likely be introduced at a later time.

Ari Emanuel speaks onstage throughout the 2017 LACMA Artwork + Movie Gala Honoring Mark Bradford and George Lucas introduced by Gucci at LACMA on November 4, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. 

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The announcement confirmed an earlier CNBC report. It additionally got here a day after WWE wrapped up its flagship dwell occasion, WrestleMania, in California. The corporate has spent the previous a number of months searching for a purchaser. McMahon returned to the corporate as chairman in January to oversee the process. Shares of WWE are up greater than 33% this 12 months as of Friday’s closing bell, giving it a market worth of greater than $6.79 billion.

The settlement would pair two of the most important sports activities leisure manufacturers on this planet. Regardless of notable variations – WWE options scripted matches and cleaning soap opera-like storylines, whereas UFC showcases authentically brutal combined martial arts preventing – the organizations seem like an excellent match by way of content material and tradition. A number of UFC fighters, together with Ronda Rousey and Brock Lesnar, have already wrestled for WWE.

UFC champion and celebrity Conor McGregor lauded information of the pending deal Sunday night. “Unimaginable. What a powerhouse!” he stated in one tweet, following up with one other tweet displaying a picture of him brandishing UFC and WWE championship belts.

A merger will even conclude WWE’s decades-long run as a household enterprise. McMahon’s father based WWE in its unique incarnation throughout the center of the twentieth century. McMahon, who purchased the corporate from his father in 1982, is the controlling shareholder. Over the previous 4 many years, WWE has grown into a world phenomenon, spawning breakout stars comparable to Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista and John Cena.

McMahon, 77, retired from the company in July following a string of revelations that he paid a number of ladies thousands and thousands of {dollars} over time to maintain them quiet about alleged affairs and misconduct. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon, grew to become co-CEO alongside Khan. Paul Levesque, who’s each Stephanie McMahon’s husband and the wrestler often called Triple H, took over inventive duties from Vince McMahon.

Dana White seems on the UFC 282 post-fight press convention on December 10, 2022, on the T-Cellular Area in Las Vegas, NV.

Amy Kaplan | Icon Sportswire | Getty Photographs

After Vince McMahon got here again in January, Stephanie McMahon stepped down and Khan totally assumed the CEO position. The elder McMahon lately locked in a two-year employment contract, in keeping with a securities filing.

Khan in current weeks has been making the media rounds to debate the potential sale. He informed CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Thursday that it has been a sturdy course of and it is drawn many patrons.

WWE provides Endeavor’s shareholders a muscular media and dwell occasions enterprise, in addition to many years value of mental property. The corporate generated $1.29 billion in income final 12 months, driven mainly by its $1 billion media unit.

UFC, in the meantime, has paid off for Endeavor. Final 12 months, the MMA league helped its mother or father firm’s sports activities enterprise make $1.3 billion in income. Endeavor’s market cap stood at about $10.53 billion as of Friday’s shut.

WWE additionally suits properly with the cultures of Endeavor and UFC, which additionally replicate their leaders’ hard-edged types. McMahon, Emanuel and White are identified for his or her outsized personalities, and every has their share of devoted allies and and harsh critics.

White is not any stranger to scandal, both. Earlier this 12 months, video emerged displaying the UFC boss slapping his wife throughout a public argument at a New 12 months’s Eve get together in Mexico. He later apologized.

Disclosure: Peacock, the streaming service owned by CNBC mother or father NBCUniversal, carries WWE occasions comparable to WrestleMania.

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