Ta­lent gi­ant raises $1.1 bil­lion

WME/IMG deal with global in­vestors is set to close this month.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Ethan Var­ian ethan.var­ian@la­times.com

Hol­ly­wood mega-ta­lent agency WME/IMG has raised $1.1 bil­lion from two in­ter­na­tional in­vestors, the com­pany an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

Canada Pen­sion Plan In­vest­ment Board and the Gov­ern­ment of Sin­ga­pore In­vest­ment Fund will join Sil­ver Lake Part­ners as strate­gic part­ners, the agency said in a state­ment. Sil­ver Lake is the pri­mary stake­holder in WME/IMG.

The deal marks the lat­est cap­i­tal in­fu­sion in WME/ IMG. Ja­panese fi­nance and tele­com gi­ant Soft­Bank in­vested $250 mil­lion in the agency in March 2016, valu­ing it at $5.5 bil­lion.

The in­vest­ment will en­able the agency to buy out some of its mi­nor­ity part­ners in the Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship, which it ac­quired for $4 bil­lion last July, ac­cord­ing to a let­ter that Sil­ver Lake sent to share­hold­ers. The let­ter was first re­ported by Va­ri­ety.

The agency also plans to make ad­di­tional ac­qui­si­tions with the new cap­i­tal, said a per­son fa­mil­iar with the deal who was unau­tho­rized to com­ment pub­licly.

The trans­ac­tion is set to close this month.

“We’re thrilled to wel­come CPPIB and GIC — two lead­ing global in­vestors — to the WME/IMG fam­ily as our new­est strate­gic part­ners,” co-chief ex­ec­u­tives Ariel Emanuel and Pa­trick White­sell said in a state­ment. “We look for­ward to work­ing with them to con­tinue grow­ing our in­ter­na­tional foot­print and de­liv­er­ing valu­able new op­por­tu­ni­ties to all our clients and part­ners.”

WME/IMG, which is based in Bev­erly Hills, is one of the largest and most pow­er­ful agen­cies in Hol­ly­wood, rep­re­sent­ing top ac­tors, mu­si­cians and ath­letes.

The com­pany has been ex­pand­ing at a rapid clip to be­come a big­ger player in the world of live sports.

It made a ma­jor bet on live sports when it bought the UFC in 2016.

As en­ter­tain­ment op­tions be­come in­creas­ingly on-de­mand, sport­ing events re­main one place where con­sumers will tune into live broad­casts, mak­ing them es­pe­cially at­trac­tive to ad­ver­tis­ers. Other live event ac­qui­si­tions have in­cluded the Pro­fes­sional Bull Rid­ers and the Miss Uni­verse Or­ga­ni­za­tion, which the agency bought from Don­ald Trump for an undis­closed amount in 2015.

With Sil­ver Lake’s back­ing, WME ac­quired New York-based sports and me­dia group IMG World­wide Inc. in 2014 for $2.4 bil­lion, ex­pand­ing its ta­lent ros­ter to in­clude star ath­letes such as Pey­ton Man­ning and pop stars such as Tay­lor Swift.

Ed Mul­hol­land Getty Im­ages

THE IN­VEST­MENT will al­low WME/IMG to buy out some of its mi­nor­ity part­ners in the Ul­ti­mate Fight­ing Cham­pi­onship, a let­ter sent to share­hold­ers said.

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