Endeavor Plans IPO as UFC, William Morris Parent Returns to Market

Scott Soshnick and Brendan Coffey
·3 min read

Endeavor Group Holdings, the entertainment conglomerate that owns Ultimate Fighting Championship, talent agencies IMG and William Morris, and produces content, including Premier League soccer and movies such as La La Land, has filed confidential paperwork for an initial public offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to two people familiar with the move.

Endeavor probably makes more than $3 billion a year in revenue from a number of entertainment, sports and content businesses, according to a 2019 prospectus. Those businesses include a large presence in event management and distribution and sales for organizations including the NFL, NHL and International Olympic Committee. The timing of the sale is still to be determined, according to the people, who requested not to be named because they weren’t authorized to discuss publicly.

Representatives for Endeavor declined to comment.

Endeavor previously sought an IPO in 2019, filing then to sell 15 million shares at $27 a share, according to the prospectus filed at the time. The company pulled the offering in September that year due to market weakness for IPOs and investor concerns over its financials.

Details of the current draft prospectus, including the market capitalization sought and the number of shares in the offering, aren’t yet known. Companies typically file a draft registration, a Form DRS, with the SEC that they can opt to keep private, while the regulator and company correspond on the details of the offering. In the 2019 deal, Endeavor was aiming to come to market at a $6.5 billion capitalization.

Despite the cancelled IPO, Endeavor has continued to grow, most notably by spending $660 million in 2020 to acquire the majority of On Location Experiences, an events business started by the National Football League, which continues to own a minority stake in the business. It’s also involved in the burgeoning U.S. sports betting market through IMG Arena, which provides official data to sportsbooks on behalf of league partners.

The business descends from the William Morris Agency, a talent representative formed in 1898 that boasted Charlie Chaplin, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe among its clients, as well as a more recent talent group, Endeavor, formed by current CEO Ari Emanuel in 1995. Separately, IMG formed in the 1960s with a sports focus, producing golf and tennis events, including Wimbledon and the Pepsi Grand Slam. By 2014 the three companies had merged, creating a Hollywood and sports business power player. In 2016, Endeavor acquired Ultimate Fighting Championship, a league in Mixed Martial Arts, one of the fastest growing sports in the world.

Based on information contained in the 2019 prospectus, Endeavor generated $3.16 billion in revenue in 2018 and a net income of $231 million. Private Equity group Silver Lake and a management-led group are the largest shareholders in the business—at least as of late 2019. At that time Silver Lake owned various classes of stock giving it 59% of the voting power while management had 23%. The Canada Pension Plan and Jasmine Ventures, an investing arm of the Singapore Government, owned about 9% of the common stock at that time.

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