Entertainment talent agency William Morris Endeavor and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners have reached a deal to acquire the IMG agency, one of the sports industry’s most influential companies, it was confirmed today.
Financial details of the acquisition were not immediately disclosed, but reports suggest that IMG’s parent company, private equity firm Forstmann Little, agreed on a price of about $2.3bn (€1.7bn) – a few hundred million dollars less than it had hoped for. IMG is expected to generate earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation this year of $190m on revenue of about $1.6bn.
IMG distributes rights for numerous sports properties through its IMG Media division and has a significant media and marketing presence in North American college sport through its IMG College unit. Although reports have claimed that IMG has scaled back its athlete representation business in recent years, it still manages clients such as leading women’s tennis star Maria Sharapova. IMG has about 3,500 employees in more than 30 countries around the world and is involved in an average of 11 sports and entertainment events every day.
Forstmann Little received more than 20 first-round bids for the agency, with CVC Capital Partners leading an unsuccessful bid of $2bn, according to the Wall Street Journal newspaper. IMG was acquired by Forstmann Little – the company founded by Ted Forstmann in 1978 alongside his brother Nick and his friend Brian Little – for $750m. Ted Forstmann passed away in 2011.
“Today marks the successful culmination of the bold global strategy devised by Ted Forstmann for IMG over many years,” said Mark MacDougall, a partner of the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, speaking on behalf of Forstmann Little. “We would like to thank the board of directors, the leadership team and all of the employees of IMG for all that they have done to bring us to this day. We are confident that this fine company will continue to flourish and grow under the leadership of Silver Lake and WME.”
Forstmann Little general partner Winston Hutchins added: “We would also like to express our appreciation to our limited partners, who have shown great patience and support of IMG and its management through the years, helping lead to this successful outcome.”