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Report: Vince wants ‘as much as $9 billion’ for WWE, has already received offers


It’s been a quiet few weeks on the “Vince McMahon returns to sell WWE” front, but business just picked up courtesy of this new report from Lucas Shaw of Bloomberg.

The highlights:

• Board Chairman and controlling shareholder McMahon is asking $9 billion for the company, “according to people familiar with his thinking... who requested that they not be identified because the discussions are private”.

• The stock’s price is up today (Feb. 17), but based on yesterday’s close price of $87.17, “the asking price was 37% greater than the company’s $6.5 billion market value.”

• Other data points that will lead to sticker shock for potential suitors: “A valuation of $9 billion amounts to about seven times the company’s $1.29 billion in sales last year, and 23 times its adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization, both at the high end for the entertainment industry.”

• Shaw doesn’t specify if these are for anywhere near McMahon’s target price, but his sources tell him there have already been offers to buy WWE.

• The report lists UFC-owner Endeavor and “investors from the Middle East who have already made major investments in golf and soccer” as potential buyers (promoting the story on Twitter, Shaw said they are “definitely” interested). Shaw then does specifically mention the Saudis, along with a reminder that WWE CEO Nick Khan patently denied last months’ rumors they had a deal in place with the KSA.

• In line with other rumors and reports, Shaw writes that media companies like Netflix Disney may shy away from bidding both because of Vince’s involvement. He also mentions concerns the WWE product “involves the sometimes messy personal lives of its wrestlers.” Shaw tweeted that “sources have expressed skepticism that many traditional media companies will buy the WWE.”

• While everything we’ve heard from WWE officials is that they want to explore their sale options before starting on new media rights deal, Bloomberg’s story says the company “is early stages of negotiations for its next TV deals”.

Add it all up, and Bloomberg’s report seems to strengthen the position of those who argued McMahon used the possibility of a sale to force his way back onto the board, but that he had little interest in actually selling. If that is correct, the question then becomes if Vince will be content to serve as the Board’s leader, or if he’ll retake control of other aspects of the company moving forward.

We’ll see how the story develops from here.

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