WWE & UFC WILL COMBINE TO FORM $21.4BN/£17.1BN SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY

WWE & UFC WILL COMBINE TO FORM $21.4BN/£17.1BN SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY

The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are joining forces to form a sports entertainment company valued at $21.4 billion.

The merged entity will be a publicly traded company that includes both UFC and WWE brands. Endeavor Group Holdings Inc., the current owner of UFC, will take a controlling 51% stake in the new company, while existing WWE shareholders will hold a 49% stake.

UFC and WWE have placed an enterprise value of $12.1 billion and $9.3 billion on their respective companies. The newly merged entity will be headed by Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel, while Vince McMahon, executive chairman at WWE, will retain his role in the new company. The merger news follows McMahon's return to WWE in January and his statement that the company could potentially be sold.

"You know how highly I think of Dana," Khan told ESPN. "Vince only has respect for what Dana has built or helped to build. So, we think it's gonna be just fine. And if there are any debates, those will be in private. Once we come out of the debate room, we're aligned and we move forward together.

"You have the two greatest promoters of the last 30 to 40 years now in the same house [White and McMahon]. We can only learn from one another."

The deal was announced mere hours after WWE's flagship event, WrestleMania, concluded over two consecutive days at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles. WrestleMania's 39th edition, which was sold out, generated a staggering gate of over $21.6 million, surpassing the previous record by 27%, according to WWE.

The second night of WrestleMania 39 broke WWE's global viewership record by 33%, following a record-breaking night one that exceeded the previous record by 28%, according to WWE. The event also broke sponsorship and merchandise records, the company stated. Additionally, WWE's WrestleMania content garnered over 500 million views on social media platforms and was watched for a total of 11 million hours over the course of the weekend.

WWE is on the heels of its first billion-dollar revenue year and now will join forces with a fellow media powerhouse in the UFC. McMahon said they will boast a "collective fan base of more than a million people."

"I think it's an incredible opportunity for us to continue growing what is already a global brand in WWE," said Khan, who formerly served as a top agent at CAA before he accepted the role of WWE president in 2020. "We're in 170 countries. Now, we'll have the opportunity to monetize each and every one of those countries in a far better way with Endeavor's global presence."

The rights agreement between UFC and ESPN, which grants ESPN+ exclusive broadcasting rights for every monthly pay-per-view event, is set to expire in 2025. On the other hand, WWE's contracts with Fox ("Friday Night SmackDown") and NBC Universal ("Monday Night Raw" on USA), with a combined annual value of approximately $500 million, will end in the fall of 2024. WWE's five-year, $1 billion arrangement with NBC Universal to broadcast their extensive library and monthly premium live events on Peacock is set to expire in 2026.

"I think live [TV rights] continues to go up," Khan said. "Our ratings are up; our relevancy's up; our revenue's up. We'd like to think we have the hot hand going into these [live-TV rights] negotiations. We'll see if we're right or we're wrong.

"Whenever you have more quality tonnage, it gives you more leverage in the marketplace.

"That excites us -- for our shareholders and our fans."

When asked about the possibility of the newly formed company entering the fractured boxing industry, Khan stated that their primary focus is on fully integrating UFC and WWE. Khan has previously managed legendary boxers such as Manny Pacquiao and James Toney, and was involved in negotiating Top Rank's agreement with ESPN during his time as an agent at CAA.

WWE initiated the sales process in January by enlisting the services of several external firms to investigate strategic alternatives. Vince McMahon, who had declared his retirement last year after accusations of utilizing company funds to conceal sexual misconduct allegations, returned as executive chairman in January to assist in supervising the sales procedure.

"The new company will be well-positioned to maximize the value of our combined media rights, enhance sponsorship monetization, develop new forms of content, and pursue other strategic mergers and acquisitions to further bolster our strong stable of brands," said McMahon, 77. "I, along with the current WWE management team, look forward to working closely with Ari and the Endeavor and UFC teams to take the businesses to the next level."

There is already some overlap between the two organizations. Former UFC fighters Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey both participated in WrestleMania on Sunday. Additionally, WWE superstar Matt Riddle was previously a UFC competitor.

"This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pure play built for where the industry is headed," Emanuel said. "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."

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