UFC, WWE to Merge Creating $21 Billion Global Live Sports and Entertainment Company

Endeavor Group Holdings, the media parent to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and World Wrestling Entertainment on April 3 announced that they have signed a definitive merger agreement to form a new, publicly listed company consisting of mixed martial arts and professional wrestling promotions and content creation. Upon close of the $9.3 billion transaction, Endeavor will hold a 51% controlling interest in the new company and existing WWE shareholders will hold a 49% stake in the new company.

In 2022, UFC and WWE achieved combined revenue of $2.4 billion and a 10% annual revenue growth rate since 2019.

Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, will head the the new combined company, while WWE founder Vincent McMahon becomes executive chairman of the board of directors. Mark Shapiro will become president and chief operating officer of both Endeavor and the new company. Dana White will continue in his role as president of UFC and Nick Khan will serve as president of WWE.

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The board will consist of 11 members who will be appointed at a later date, six of whom will be appointed by Endeavor and five of whom by WWE.

“This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed,” Emanuel said in a statement. “For decades, Vince and his team have demonstrated an incredible track record of innovation and shareholder value creation, and we are confident that Endeavor can deliver significant additional value for shareholders by bringing UFC and WWE together.”

McMahon said the combined company is a $21+ billion live sports and entertainment powerhouse with a collective fanbase of more than a billion people worldwide.

“The new company will be well positioned to maximize the value of our combined media rights, enhance sponsorship monetization, develop new forms of content, including movies and TV shows, and pursue other strategic mergers and acquisitions to further bolster our strong stable of brands,” McMahon said.

Endeavor expects significant growth across revenue areas, including domestic and international media rights, ticket sales and yield optimization, event operations, sponsorship, licensing and premium hospitality. Endeavor’s success at UFC includes increasing commercial opportunities that have driven more than 200% pre-tax earnings growth since its acquisition in late 2016.

In January 2021, NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming platform became the exclusive American distributor of the WWE Network, the company’s subscription streaming platform with about 1.5 million paid subscribers.

Talent Firm Endeavor Acquires Video Streaming Company NeuLion

Digital media distribution company NeuLion and sports and entertainment talent firm Endeavor March 26 announced a merger agreement by which Endeavor will acquire NeuLion in an all-cash deal valued at about $250 million.

Under the terms of the agreement, Endeavor will acquire each share of outstanding common stock of NeuLion for 84 cents a share. Upon completion of the transaction, Plainview, N.Y.-based NeuLion will become a privately held subsidiary of Beverley Hills, Calif.-based Endeavor.

The talent firm will use NeuLion to help clients expand streaming video distribution and monetizing opportunities.

“NeuLion provides an ideal combination of technology and client services, and we’re excited for the value this brings to our existing partners and the foundation it provides for our future digital growth,” Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, said in a statement.

The transaction, approved by NeuLion’s board of directors and by the written consent of holders of a majority of outstanding common stock, is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. It is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.

“We’re excited by the value delivered to our stockholders through this transaction, and we’re looking forward to the dynamic opportunities that being part of the Endeavor family will provide for both our current and new clients,” said Roy Reichbach CEO of NeuLion.

NeuLion expects to release fourth-quarter 2017 earnings on March 30.