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WWE and Endeavor have entered into an agreement to merge WWE and UFC, according to new SEC filings.
WWE employees were sent an email from Vince McMahon announcing the transaction and that there’s an all-employees meeting at 4 pm ET.
I’m excited to announce that WWE has entered into a partnership with Endeavor to create a one-of-a-kind company that will bring together two global sports and entertainment powerhouses: WWE and UFC.
The historic alliance of these two formidable institutions has the potential to unlock vast growth opportunities for both organizations and generate opportunities for both organizations and generate an optimal outcome for our employees, shareholders, fans, and other stakeholders. We are huge admirers of the work Endeavor has done to grow the UFC brand, and they will be the perfect partner to help supercharge our growth at WWE.
We are on the cusp of a new golden age for live sports entertainment, and by combining our two iconic and highly complementary properties under one roof, we will be able to fully capitalize on the rapidly expanding, global appetite for live sports events and premium content. We have some of the most engaged, passionate, and fast-growing fan bases in sports, and we are two of the only leagues capable of delivering content and events year-round.
Together, we are a $21+ billion live sports and entertainment colossus with a collective fan base of more than two billion people — and counting. With our decades of combined experience, complementary expertise, ,and pooled resources, we intended ot create and cross-promote more premium live and on-demand content around the world.
As for how this impacts you, following the close of the transaction, we expect to continue to operate largely as we do now. Both WWE and UFC will become wholly owned subsidiaries of the new company but retain our separate brands, as well as our leadership teams and headquarters. I will serve as Executive Chairman of the Board, while Ari Emanuel will become the CEO of the new company and remain CEO of Endeavor. Mark Shapiro will become President of the new company and also retain his role as President of Endeavor. Nick Khan will serve as WWE President, and Dana White will continue in his role as UFC President. Paul Levesque will remain WWE’s chief content executive.
As of now, we expect the transaction to conclude later this year. In the meantime, it is business as usual here, and this news has no immediate impact on your day-to-day roles or responsibilities.
Nick, along with Paul, Frank, Brad and Maurice, will host an all-employee meeting today at 4:00p ET to provide additional details.
I want to close by expressing my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to you all. We are coming off the most successful WrestleMania of all time and that’s a testmane to your commitment and ability ot execute 52 weeks a year. I can’t wait to work with all of you on building this exciting next chapter for WWE.
Then. Now. Forever. Together.
Closing of the transaction is expected in late 2023.
New management following the merger:
- Ari Emanuel – Endeavor & NewCo CEO
- Vince McMahon – NewCo Exec Chairman
- Mark Shapiro – Endeavor & NewCo Pres./COO
- Jason Lublin – Endeavor CFO
- Andrew Schleimer – NewCo CFO
- Dana White – UFC Pres.
- Lawrence Epstein – UFC COO
- Nick Khan – WWE Pres.
A webcast with Endeavor executives discussing the transaction is available on WWE and EDR IR websites. Nick Khan told Axios a name is being finalized.
Not clear what NewCo’s name will ultimately be but the 8-K filing notes they’ve reserved the ticker TKO.
Nick Khan ($15 million), Paul Levesque ($5 million), and Frank Riddick ($5 million) have made bonus agreements to encourage them to complete the transaction by Feb. 28, 2024.
Special voting power for class B shares (currently held only by Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Linda McMahon), granting 10x voting power per share, is going away. That is, they will hold shares but 1 vote per share.
Vince McMahon and Ari Emanuel sat together for an interview on CNBC.
Vince says “Absolutely” this deal still would’ve been made if not for the sexual misconduct scandal that led to his resignation last year. Vince also denies it led to a company transaction happening sooner.
Ari Emanuel on Vince staying with the new company: “I would’ve bodyslammed him if he thought he was going to leave.”
“So you wanted [Vince] to stay?”
“Oh my god, yes,” Emanuel said.
“So you were ready to walk away?”
Ari: I wasn’t gonna let him.
Vince McMahon said he’ll be involved in WWE creative “on a higher level high level, yes. In the weeds… no, can’t do that.”
Vince McMahon on his legacy.
“I’ve made mistakes both personally and professionally in my 50-year career. I’ve owned up to every single one of them and then moved on. I’m not sure about the legacy stuff because I’m not going to write it.”
He says WWE and Saudi Arabia will continue their relationship despite Endeavor’s reluctance to do business with the government.
Khan to Axios on layoffs:
“An integration team is going to be put into place between both companies in short order, and we’ll know — we’ll have a lot more in the next week or two.”
Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.
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