For the first time in the company’s history, a McMahon is no longer the majority owner of WWE.
Vincent Kennedy McMahon will still be running WWE, but now he’s a (still major) part in a larger machine. That’s because as was announced last week, Endeavor’s purchase of WWE is official as of today (Sept. 12).
The company McMahon bought from his father in the 1980s and took public in 1999 is now part of Endeavor-owned TKO Group Holdings. Vince is Executive Chairman of TKO and owns approximately 16% of the new company, which also includes the UFC. Endeavor purchased a controlling interest in the mixed martial arts promotion/brand in 2016 and took full ownership in 2021. Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel is the CEO of TKO.
McMahon no longer has the kind of voting power in TKO he had in WWE, which earlier this year allowed him to defy the board and return to power after a sexual misconduct/hush money scandal in order to facilitate the sale to Endeavor and ensure a major role in shaping WWE’s — and now perhaps the UFC’s — future. Under the TKO Group umbrella, Dana White will continue to run UFC as its CEO, while Nick Khan will serve as WWE president.
We’ll have to wait to see how the updated TKO management structure impacts WWE or UFC (officially, changes are supposed to be behind-the-scenes and initially focused on cutting costs by eliminating redundancies and leveraging the merged entities increased market power for savings and new business opportunities. In addition to White & Khan remaining in charge of their respective outfits, Paul “Triple H” Levesque is still head of creative for WWE). On Wall Street, it was evident something was different even before the news was officially announced.
This is the view outside the New York Stock Exchange this AM.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) September 12, 2023
Massive day for UFC, WWE and Endeavor.
TKO Group Holdings will trade on the New York Stock Exchange as of today under the ticker symbol TKO. The deal is official. pic.twitter.com/ugmLXfEK3Y
That announcement came at 9am ET, via press release:
ENDEAVOR ANNOUNCES CLOSE OF UFC® AND WWE® TRANSACTION TO CREATE TKO GROUP HOLDINGS, A PREMIUM SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY
New Company to Begin Trading Today, September 12, on the New York Stock Exchange Under “TKO” Ticker Symbol
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. & STAMFORD, Conn. (September 12, 2023) – Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: EDR) (“Endeavor”) and World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (previously NYSE: WWE) (“WWE”) today announced the close of their previously announced agreement and the launch of TKO Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: TKO) (“TKO”).
TKO brings together UFC, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, and WWE, an integrated media organization and the recognized global leader in sports entertainment, to create a new premium sports and entertainment company serving more than one billion young and diverse fans, reaching viewers in 180 countries, and producing more than 350 annual live events. Through this combination, TKO will leverage Endeavor’s expertise in areas including domestic and international media rights, ticket sales and yield optimization, event operations, global partnerships, licensing, and premium hospitality to drive revenue growth.
“The creation of TKO marks an exciting new chapter for UFC and WWE as leaders in global sports and entertainment,” said Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor and TKO. “Given their continued connectivity to the Endeavor network, we are confident in our ability to accelerate their respective growth and unlock long-term sustainable value for shareholders. With UFC and WWE under one roof, we will provide unrivaled experiences for more than a billion passionate fans worldwide.”
“This is the culmination of a decades-long partnership between Endeavor and WWE across strategic initiatives including talent representation and media rights. Given our collaborative, trusted relationship and Endeavor’s incredible track record of success growing UFC, we believe WWE is optimally positioned for future growth and success as part of TKO,” said Vince McMahon, Executive Chairman of TKO. “Our focus remains on delivering for our fans across the globe as we take the business to the next level alongside UFC and Endeavor.”
TKO will begin trading today on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “TKO,” with Endeavor holding a 51% controlling interest in the new company and existing WWE shareholders holding a 49% interest in the new company, on a fully diluted basis.
As previously announced, TKO is led by:
• Ariel Emanuel, Chief Executive Officer, who continues as Chief Executive Officer of Endeavor;
• Mark Shapiro, President and Chief Operating Officer, who continues as President and Chief Operating Officer of Endeavor;
• Andrew Schleimer, Chief Financial Officer; and
• Seth Krauss, Chief Legal Officer, who continues as Chief Legal Officer of Endeavor.
Dana White is now Chief Executive Officer of UFC and Lawrence Epstein remains Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of UFC. Nick Khan continues at WWE in the role of President.
The Board of Directors of TKO is led by Vince McMahon as Executive Chairman of the Board and consists of 11 members, including Mr. Emanuel, Mr. Shapiro, and Mr. Khan, in addition to the following directors:
• Peter C.B. Bynoe, Senior Advisor at DLA Piper LLP;
• Egon P. Durban, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Silver Lake;
• Steven R. Koonin, Chief Executive Officer of the Atlanta Hawks, LLC;
• Jonathan A. Kraft, President of the Kraft Group LLC;
• Sonya E. Medina, President and Chief Executive Officer of Reach Resilience;
• Nancy R. Tellem, Executive Chairperson and Chief Media Officer of Eko; and
• Carrie Wheeler, Chief Executive Officer and a board member of Opendoor Technologies Inc.
Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC served as financial advisors to Endeavor, Latham & Watkins LLP served as legal advisor to Endeavor, and Alvarez & Marsal served as integration advisor to Endeavor. The Raine Group served as lead financial advisor to WWE. J.P. Morgan and Moelis & Company LLC served as financial advisors to WWE. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP served as legal advisor to WWE, and Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisor to WWE’s controlling stockholder, McMahon.
Whatever happens next, Sept. 12, 2023 is a historic day in combat sports/sport entertainment.