World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Endeavor Group-owned UFC announced in early April that they will merge and form a new publicly traded company controlled by Endeavor. The deal values WWE at $9.3 billion and UFC at $12.1 billion.
Endeavor, founded in 2009 after the merger of the William Morris Agency and the Endeavor Talent Agency, will own a 51% stake in the new sports entertainment entity, which is unnamed as of yet. Shareholders will have the remaining 49%.
WWE owner Vince McMahon, whose father founded the company in the mid-1900s, will remain as executive chairman and controlling shareholder. In the four decades that he has been at the helm, WWE has become a global phenomenon, creating stars including Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dave Bautista, and John Cena. The company has been looking for a buyer for several months, according to CNBC.
Endeavor’s Ari Emanuel will act as Chief Executive for both Endeavor and the merged company, and Endeavor’s president and Chief Operating Officer Mark Shapiro will assume the same roles going forward.
Endeavor will appoint six people to the 11-member board, and WWE will appoint five. The company will trade on the New York Stock Exchange as TKO.
Fans can expect the shows and culture that they are used to, including WWE’s features scripted matches and soap opera-like storylines and UFC’s authentically brutal mixed martial arts fighting.
Endeavor is gaining a powerful media and live events business and years of intellectual property in WWE, which generated $1.29 billion in revenue in 2022.
“We have a track record of success with media rights,” Emanuel told investors in a recorded message. “WWE has similar scale to UFC. In the universe of assets at this scale, the opportunity is rare and finite.”