Endeavor looking at an IPO comeback

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson stands with Endeavor's Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell at an event in November 2015.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with Endeavor’s leader, Ari Emanuel, center, and executive chairman Patrick Whitesell at an event in November 2015.
(Ilya S. Savenok/Ilya S. Savenok)

Endeavor Group Holdings Inc., the owner of talent agency WME, Endeavor Content and sports league UFC, is planning a new initial public offering, according to a report.

The entertainment giant has filed confidential paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission, reported Sportico, a digital content site providing sports industry news and data.

A spokesperson for Endeavor declined to comment. No new filings appeared on the SEC’s website as of Friday.

This would be Endeavor’s second attempt to go public after it scrapped its much anticipated IPO in September 2019, a day before its shares were expected to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange, citing hazardous market conditions.


At the time, Endeavor left open the possibility that it might return to the public market if conditions improved.

The IPO collapse was a rare stumble for Endeavor leader Ari Emanuel, whose ambition is to make Endeavor into a global entertainment juggernaut. The IPO was supposed to help fuel its ascent by raising cash to chip away at its $4.6-billion debt (at the time of the planned IPO) and fund future acquisitions.

Like the rest of the entertainment industry, Endeavor has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which ground Hollywood to a virtual standstill.

Last March, the company announced salary cuts and layoffs across the company, with Emanuel and his partner executive chairman Patrick Whitesell forgoing their own salaries for the year.

Since then, speculation has been rife that Endeavor was facing serious financial challenges.

Last May, Mark Shapiro, president of Endeavor, told The Times, “There are so many ... rumors,” dispelling speculation that the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy protection from creditors. “We’ve made very responsible and prudent decisions in regards to remodeling our cost structure in the face of the pandemic.”


He added, “There’s a great demand for events and content. We are well positioned to be the first out of the gate for that. We just have to get to the other side.”

WME and other top agencies also are grappling with the terms of new agreements with the Writers Guild of America. Under a recently announced deal, WME and its investor Silver Lake will reduce their ownership stake in Endeavor Content to 20% or less and will also end packaging — in which an agency collects fees for pulling together talent for projects — by the end of June 2022.