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Breaking: Endeavor strikes deal to run WWE and UFC under new publicly-traded company

The rumors are true: Endeavor is buying a controlling stake in WWE, which will be run under one publicly-traded company alongside UFC.

MMA: UFC 213-Romero vs Whittaker Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official: Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) parent company, Endeavor, is buying a controlling interest in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). The immediate plan for the professional wrestling company: combine it with UFC under a new publicly-traded company currently referred to as, “NewCo.” While that’s a tad bland, the New York Stock Exchange ticker symbol is certainly memorable: “TKO.”

Rumors started to swirl on Sunday night that a deal was close to being announced between Endeavor and WWE regarding a sale. WWE had been courting potential buyers for several months, and we can see why they chose Endeavor. Under the known terms of this deal, Endeavor gains a controlling 51 percent share of NewCo, while WWE stockholders maintain 49 percent.

That means WWE shareholders will not only get a huge payout in the deal, they’ll still have significant skin in the game. That includes the biggest WWE shareholder of them all, Vince McMahon, who will now serve as Executive Chairman of the Board under Chief Executive Officer, Ari Emanuel.

“This is a rare opportunity to create a global live sports and entertainment pureplay built for where the industry is headed,” said Ariel Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor. “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.”

The New York Times reported on the sale, pointing to high licensing fees being paid by digital subscription networks for live entertainment as a driver for the deal. Endeavor’s recent track record improving domestic and international UFC sponsorship income also signals where they can help WWE.

The deal transaction values UFC at $12.1 billion — an impressive increase over the $4 billion Endeavor paid for the promotion in 2016. WWE, meanwhile, is/was valued at $9.3 billion. While the boards of both WWE and Endeavor have unanimously agreed to the deal, it won’t close until later this year pending regulatory approval.

“Given the incredible work that Ari and Endeavor have done to grow the UFC brand – nearly doubling its revenue over the past seven years – and the immense success we’ve already had in partnering with their team on a number of ventures, I believe that this is without a doubt the best outcome for our shareholders and other stakeholders,” said Vincent K. McMahon, Executive Chairman of WWE.

“Together, we will be a $21+ billion live sports and entertainment powerhouse with a collective fanbase of more than a billion people and an exciting growth opportunity,” McMahon continued. “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. 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.”

Read the full press release from Endeavor regarding the purchase of WWE and the combination of WWE and UFC into a new entity RIGHT HERE.

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