WME-IMG secures Japanese investment through SoftBank deal

WME-IMG has announced that Japanese telecommunications and internet firm SoftBank Group has invested $250m (€227.3m) to become a strategic partner in the agency.

SoftBank joins current strategic investor, US private equity firm Silver Lake, in partnership with WME-IMG. The agency said it expects to use the capital to advance its global growth strategy through new investments, acquisitions and joint ventures.

Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, co-chief executives of WME-IMG, said: “SoftBank brings a unique industry perspective and a commitment to help us deliver valuable new opportunities to our clients and partners in markets around the world.”

SoftBank director Ron Fisher, who managed the investment process, added: “Ari, Patrick and the rest of WME-IMG’s talented management team have a strong record of performance and transformation at the intersection of entertainment, sports and fashion. We look forward to supporting WME-IMG as it advances the next phase of its growth, further developing and driving its client and content offerings.”

IMG last month agreed a five-year extension to its agreement with the PGA of America to distribute international broadcast rights for golf majors the PGA Championship and Senior PGA Championship.

The new contract will run from 2017 until 2021 and extends the relationship between IMG and the PGA to 35 years, having first begun in 1986. Rights for North America were not included under the deal.