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WME/IMG secures $1.1-billion infusion from international investors

Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes
The investment will enable WME/IMG to buy out some of its minority partners in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, according to a letter sent to shareholders.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Hollywood mega-talent agency WME/IMG has raised $1.1 billion from two international investors, the company announced Wednesday.

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and the Government of Singapore Investment Fund will join Silver Lake Partners as strategic partners, the agency said in a statement. Silver Lake is the primary stakeholder in WME/IMG.

The deal marks the latest capital infusion in WME/IMG. Japanese finance and telecom giant SoftBank invested $250 million in the agency in March 2016, valuing it at $5.5 billion.

The investment will enable the agency to buy out some of its minority partners in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which it acquired for $4 billion last July, according to a letter that Silver Lake sent to shareholders. The letter was first reported by Variety.

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The agency also plans to make additional acquisitions with the new capital, said a person familiar with the deal who was unauthorized to comment publicly.

The transaction is set to close this month.

“We’re thrilled to welcome CPPIB and GIC — two leading global investors — to the WME/IMG family as our newest strategic partners,” co-chief executives Ariel Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell said in a statement. “We look forward to working with them to continue growing our international footprint and delivering valuable new opportunities to all our clients and partners.”

WME/IMG, which is based in Beverly Hills, is one of the largest and most powerful agencies in Hollywood, representing top actors, musicians and athletes.

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The company has been expanding at a rapid clip to become a bigger player in the world of live sports.

It made a major bet on live sports when it bought the UFC in 2016.

As entertainment options become increasingly on-demand, sporting events remain one place where consumers will tune into live broadcasts, making them especially attractive to advertisers.

Other live event acquisitions have included the Professional Bull Riders and the Miss Universe Organization, which the agency bought from Donald Trump for an undisclosed amount in 2015.

With Silver Lake’s backing, WME acquired New York-based sports and media group IMG Worldwide Inc. in 2014 for $2.4 billion.

ethan.varian@latimes.com

@ethanvarian


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