With WWE in the spotlight this week thanks to WrestleMania 39, we got an update on efforts to sell the company from a familiar source.
Vince McMahon’s stated reason for returning from a brief, sexual misconduct/hush money scandal-induced retirement was to maximize value for WWE shareholders, and his first priority for doing so was exploring a sale of the entire enterprise. CNBC’s David Faber has been reporting on the process since McMahon’s January comeback. He was among the first to report that current Raw, NXT & WWE Network rights holder (and CNBC parent company) NBCUniversal would not be a player — something Faber reiterates in his update on the Mar. 28 episode of Squawk on the Street.
In his earlier reports, Faber also gave voice to skepticism about how serious McMahon really was about selling. He’s now hearing that Vince has a “real willingness to sell”, however.
“Lot of people had doubts about it for any number of reasons, including of course whether or not Vince McMahon — who still owns 37% of the company and in many ways controls it — would ever really sell... From what I’m hearing from people familiar with the situation is — shaping up to be a pretty good sales process. Some people saying pretty hot and heavy. And those who were doubtful you’d get to a sale at the end seem less so.”
It’s a battle royal! @davidfaber reports multiple parties are in the ring for a potential sale of $WWE pic.twitter.com/LuoqfLIHpH— Squawk on the Street (@SquawkStreet) March 28, 2023
He does say it’s still “unclear” whether “something gets done here”.
Regarding potential suitors, Faber says “we can all take our various guesses” before running through some familiar names:
• Endeavor, who is investigating a reverse Morris trust that would allow them to spin off UFC into a new company that would then be merged with WWE.
• There is some “private equity interest... perhaps in partnership with well known names in the sport.”
• F1 owner Liberty Media
• And, of course, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund
Overall, the optimism that a sale could occur is the new facet of this Faber Report. When will we know if WWE ownership is going to change hands?
“It is expected to conclude in the not too distant future,” Faber says. That’s in line with what WWE CEO Nick Khan told him back in February.