Hollywood talent agency William Morris Endeavor along with private equity firm Silver Lake Partners are finalizing a deal to acquire IMG Worldwide Inc., the sports and media entity that represents the likes of
The deal, expected to be announced later this week, is a coup for WME and Silver Lake, the Menlo Park, Calif., firm that holds a minority stake in the agency. With IMG in the fold, WME would have access to a trove of new clients and perhaps most importantly an immediate and formidable presence in the sports representation business.
WME will pay private equity firm Forstmann Little about $2.3 billion for New York-based IMG, according to people briefed on the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly. IMG, acquired by Forstmann Little in 2004 for $750 million, was put on the block after the death of leveraged buyout maven Theodore Forstmann in 2011.
IMG has more than 500 athletes, models and entertainers as clients, including
WME, which is based in Beverly Hills and headed by co-Chief Executives Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, has a client roster that includes
Spokespeople for WME, IMG and Forstmann Little all declined comment. Silver Lake did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
Also in the bidding was Peter Chernin, the former senior
For WME, the deal ups its intense competition with CAA for supremacy in the representation business and is further evidence that the battle is moving beyond television and movies and into sports.
CAA has a head start. It represents 800 to 1,000 athletes and also handles corporate naming rights for sports facilities, among other services. It also is a partial owner in Evolution Media Capital, a boutique investment banking firm that specializes in media and sports and has been involved in numerous deals including the sales of the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia 76ers.
WME and Silver Lake were advised on the IMG sale by media executive Mark Shapiro, who could end up with a role in running IMG after the sale closes.
Shapiro, the former chief executive of
Since Silver Lake bought its stake in WME in May 2012, the companies have actively sought to grow their business through acquisitions. This year, WME and Silver Lake made an offer to buy video streaming site
Staff writer Joe Flint contributed to this report.