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Vince McMahon on selling WWE: 'We're open for business'

During today's investor conference call, Vince McMahon tried to keep his stockholders happy by giving the impression that he would be open to the idea of selling WWE if a deal he couldn't refuse came along.

Vince McMahon: "WWE is open for business" (just like TNA, not)
Vince McMahon: "WWE is open for business" (just like TNA, not)
Brad Barket/Getty Images

WWE's third quarter financial results for the year were very respectable, albeit mildly disappointing, narrowly hitting the lower end of their targets, including an average of 1.46 million paying subscribers for the WWE Network during the three month period and OIBDA (operating income before depreciation and amortisation, WWE's favourite profit measure) of $24.5 million. Indeed, three months ago, WWE had projected average paid subscribers to the WWE Network of 1.49 million (+/- 2%) and an OIBDA of $24-28 million.

As always, Vince McMahon spun the figures as best he could in his opening remarks to investors during today's investors call, touting his optimism for the future and the turnaround in Smackdown's ratings due to its recent format change, amongst other achievements:

"We remain very bullish on our long-term opportunity with our WWE Network and the ability to distribute our content directly to our global audience.... As far as television ratings are concerned, our brand extension we think continues to work very well. As far as is SmackDown as you know we went to a live format, it’s live format is about twice the ratings that were in the same time slot a year ago and is about 16% above what we were doing with SmackDown on a tape basis on Thursday nights on USA."

Vince's bullishness is represented by WWE's 2017 outlook projecting continued WWE Network subscriber growth, record revenue, record adjusted OIBDA of $100 million and operating income of $70 million.

Despite this, Vince McMahon was put on the spot by investors about the possibility of him selling the company to a larger conglomerate, given the recent AT&T-Time Warner merger, NBCUniversal's purchase of Dreamworks Animation and sale of UFC to WME IMG. Not wanting to disappoint his investors, Vince tried his best to sound open to the idea:

"Again we're open to anything but I think that you know controlling your own destiny is so important. And I don’t know how much you lose control over that you know by being absorbed or sold or what have you, but again, we’re open to anything, we’re business people, so it's not a question of if the right deal came along, it’s one of those things where if it's a deal you couldn't refuse, we're listening. Otherwise you know we're creating our own content, which is extremely valuable as George said over all platforms and that's important. The old content is king is true, maybe truer today than it’s ever been. So we're open for business."

When pressed on whether he'd sell WWE if a deal was offered that was structured in a way to manage your our destiny, Vince hid behind the euphemism of "We're open for business."

In reality, a deal that would retain Vince McMahon as WWEs Chairman and CEO, and guarantee that his daughter Stephanie McMahon and son-in-law Paul "Triple H" Levesque would takeover running the company upon his death/retirement, whilst stumping up enough cash to tempt the McMahon family is highly unlikely to ever come along. So don't expect Vince to cash out anytime soon.

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