Even before we learned Vince McMahon would shrug off “retirement” (and a sexual harassment/hush money scandal) to return to WWE with the stated goal of maximizing shareholder value in a possible sale of the company and/or its next media rights deals, Endeavor’s name has always come up in any discussions of possible WWE buyers.
The talent agency-turned-media conglomerate already does business with WWE on a couple of fronts, and owns another sports entertainment live events & content creation outfit in UFC. Terms like corporate synergy and redundant costs get thrown around, The Street gets excited... Endeavor made sense as an entity that would at least bid on Vince McMahon’s empire.
And maybe they did. But CEO Ari Emanuel’s comments when asked about Endeavor’s interest in purchasing WWE on their earning calls yesterday (Feb. 28) don’t make it sound like they’re going to be pursuing a WWE acquisition going forward:
“As it relates to WWE, it’s an unbelievable product. Vince, you know, created a great business. We’ve had a longstanding relationship with them over two decades. We’re doing on location business with them, streaming business with them, his business is really valuable. But we’re not going to do anything as it relates to changing our leverage position right now.”
That means they aren’t interested in taking on any more debt to buy stuff, like say a pro wrestling company that might have a $9 billion sticker price. In fact, elsewhere on the call Endeavor executives talked about the need to de-leverage and possibly sell off assets.
So while it’s possible this is a negotiating tactic, it seems another potential buyer has dropped off the list. With rumors indicating Comcast and other traditional media companies could also be taking a pass, choices may be down to the Saudis or the status quo.